It’s Here.

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Another semester fast approaching. A new contract signed. A yearning to “give back.” A running bug caught.

Life doesn’t slow. It keeps flying along, and I find myself challenged to dive in. I have this annoying need to control everything and an almost debilitating need to do everything perfect. The pace of life is beating that need out of me. It’s one thing to do things well: to pour yourself into them, but it is another when it is never good enough. When you’re afraid to try something new because you might make a mistake… that’s when you have a problem.

So right now my prayers (amongst many others) are to let go. To dive in. To live in faith of one so much greater than me.

Today I officially transitioned from “intern” to jr. designer. I have been given a permanent, full-time position which will allow me to take on more as a designer as I learn it. Today I was running all over a house that we will be renovating with a laser measure. I was assisting with our architectural lead in dimensioning everything so that he could go back to the computer and draft up an “as is” floor plan. It hit me: I’m exactly where I should be.

The blog won’t be fancy, and the text might be sparse, but I want to make record of this journey. My goal isn’t glamour. Instead, it’s to delight in simple things. To be proud of working hard. To find depths of faith and be endlessly grateful.

Happy September. It’s officially my favourite time of the year. The photo was taken on the first night of our vacation on the Sunshine Coast. Since returning from New Zealand, I have been in a mad love-affair with the west coast. Don’t get me wrong, New Zealand is stunning. I left a piece of my heart there, but I realized my soul lives for the west coast. If only the two were closer…

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Just About There.

Today I am finishing up my last manual drafting assignment ever! That’s cause for some celebration.

It’s not so say that I won’t have to hand draft future projects, but it is to say that I won’t have to do up entire presentation-style vignettes and be marked solely on the precision of my drafting ability (I’ll be marked on my design, space planning, dimensioning etc.).

The only thing standing between me and a break from my set squares, lead pointer and scale is a drafting final. Gulp. Please send some good thoughts my way between 1pm and 4pm tomorrow PLEAAAAAASE!

Image via

And I Thought a Break Was Coming.

Last 10 days of this semester. Currently in the “fall asleep when the birds are waking up” part of my week (weekends are when I do the bulk of my homework). I have two projects left, and I have been counting down the days to when I only have to work and don’t have homework deadlines looming.

I have mentioned that my internship is going well. The team at the office seems to feel that I am a good fit. Last week, I sat down with the owner and, to put it bluntly, he thinks it’s time for me to start transitioning from intern/design assistant to design lead.

Gulp.

He says that these past two months have given him, and the project managers, time to observe me. He is well-aware that I am not finished my school program, but he said that he sees the things in me that cannot be taught (intuition, creativity, organization etc.), and he believes that the company is well equipped to teach me the stuff I need to know before I start taking my own clients.

We stepped off the plane from NZ over a year ago. I signed up for design courses and have been running off my feet ever since (I’ve been in school 11 out of 12 months). I thought I would take the next couple months to just work at the design office during the day, and do a few shifts at the restaurant in the evenings. Instead, I am officially shifting from assistant to apprentice. It is highly likely that I am going to put in 80+ hours to get my first two levels of AutoCad during the first two weeks of July (enjoy that sun for me, because I’ll be hidden away in a computer lab).

Everything happens for a reason. Who would have thought that my working in a restaurant would introduce me to a local designer (who then mentioned to her boss that there was a design student looking for volunteer opportunities for the summer)? And it’s not just that- Becky (the designer) and I are on such a similar page that it blows my mind.

Hard work (I have “punched the clock” at 4am too many times to count), sacrifice (work, school, repeat), passion (it’s why I can stay up til 4am… uncaffeinated) have been met with opportunity- the recipe for an explosion. I say over and over and over again, I am meant to do this. 

So, it seems there is no slowing down. The education to take me from dreamer to designer is full throttle. Last year is was just school. This year, it is school (I’m going to finish my program in the next year or so), apprenticeship and a hell of a lot of swimming in that deep end.

Image Sources: 1.2.3.4.

I Want to Ride My Bicycle.

We’ve got just over a month to get our design submission in. We’re aiming for the Future Masters design competition by Artsy Dartsy and IDS West. If we get selected, we’ll get to have a booth at IDS West in September! Last night we brainstormed over crustless quiche and a bottle of J Lohr. I think we have something pretty great. Becky and I are on the same page when it comes to design. We’re aiming to create something that is simple, yet so much better than what is currently on the market and to do so at a price that is affordable.

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It was kind of crazy how quickly we came up with the idea and it just snowballed from there. Now we have to get busy on building it.

I am thrilled to be starting my 2 restaurant shifts a week this week. Those 8am-11pm days killed me. They were especially bad having them back to back… now I only do ONE long day a week (Fridays), and I get to sleep in the next morning.

My drafting class has picked up the pace and we’re now doing 3-D perspective drawings. You wouldn’t believe the number of guidelines that have to be drawn to produce a perspective drawing. I literally start to go cross-eyed after a while. I’ve decided that if I have to do manual drafting, I might as well make it fun, so I started designing for fictional clients. Last assignment it was Don Draper’s bedroom and totally Mid Century Modern. This week it’s Princess Jasmine’s living room- I’ve been collecting a ton of Moroccan-style images as inspiration.

And now I am all excited to bring it to life.

…And last night this popped up in my new feed on facebook:

It’s time to announce the winner of our Green Light Contest, for the Pedego Classic Cruiser Electric Bicycle #pedego. Congrats to www.facebook.com/chelsmartens. Check your facebook inbox Chelsea for details on how to claim your prize and get cruisin! Thank you everyone for entering and supporting our family farm!

I “liked” Sun Select Produce on Facebook and was entered into the contest, and I won the nicest bike ever!!!

I couldn’t even sleep last night, and this morning felt like Christmas morning. I can’t wait to meet it!

Images: 1.2.3

Almost.

Tonight I am thankful for getting 1of 2 final drafting projects done ( when I manage to complete the second- I will officially be on winter break). And I am thankful for the glass of wine and 1 am bath that followed a looong day stooped over the drafting table.

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What’s so Bad About an “Oops” Anyway?

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.

– Ken Robinson, TED Talk

You know when life gets so busy, how you feel like you are living underground, like you have only a headlamp on and you can only see what’s right in front of you, and you know the walls are close and you don’t have much room to move, so mixed with panic and exhaustion you keep putting one foot in front of the other hoping to find the end somewhere? Ever get that feeling?

There’s that twisted part of me that loves being busy like that. Getting one step closer to that finish line does wonders for my results oriented personality. The physical part of me hates it. My body hates the lack of sleep, and my brow becomes permanently furrowed as an act of protest to what I am forcing myself to do.

Truth be told, I can’t seem to get my brain to shut off until about 3am, and I hate the wasted hours of sleeping in. I am going to have hell to pay. I am just hoping it’s not until Christmas break- I can’t afford to get sick right now.

Tonight’s class was brilliant. My group and I did an amazing presentation on Karim Rashid and I am systematically overcoming my anxiety over doing presentations (this program loves making us do presentations).

But moreover, we discussed the topic of CONCEPT and how all our design projects will come from a concept. Continually coming up with fresh, innovative concepts is one of the biggest challenges facing us design students in the months to come, so thus began the conversation around creativity.

I stayed an extra 40 minutes after class continuing the discussion with my instructor. My mind just LOVED tonight’s class.

We watched a TED Talk that discussed how our culture systematically destroys creativity through our education system…

Give the video 60 seconds and I am sure it will pull you

The whole idea of how the fear of making a mistake is culturally ingrained in us and actually gets in our way of embracing deeper learning through trying things out (rather than just reproducing what we’re told to think/do). The quote at the top is a keeper. Such a solid reminder.

The Process

It’s ok when you fall in love with your own creation right?

We’ve been challenged to make models in our design theory class using simple poster board and masking tape. The whole purpose is to document our creative process. If you can believe it, I started my very first sketch drawing 7 circles linked together in a chain 1-dimensionally, and 7 days later ended up with this. Tonight I have been experimenting with light in it and I’m just adoring what I am getting in my photographs of it.

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What has been so cool about it is that our teacher told us to just draw shapes, to ignore the idea of an end product, and just allow the structure come to us through exploration of positive and negative space. She said “I guarantee that if you don’t rush the process to the final product, you will come up with something so much better.”

Creative process. No limits. No goals. Just creativity for the sake of creativity. I’ve never done that before. Such a freeing and exciting experience.

Bearing a Bit of My Soul

When I wake up in the morning, I stumble around in a daze. I need a solid 30 mins to suck back a couple “cuppas” (New Zealand slang… remember I lived there once?) before I can get serious about my day. Scotty always shakes his head at me when I begin to calculate how early I have to get up for something. I always factor in the minimum 30 minutes I need to let the caffeine soak in before I can begin to get ready. Generally, I get up a solid 1 1/2 hours before I have to leave. I take 40 mins to shower and be ready, but I can NOT just stumble out of bed and into the shower. I have to process this.

Our thanksgiving was low-key. Weekends are a bit of a luxury in this stage of our life. The need to catch up on homework and make enough money to pay the bills usually dominates our Saturday and Sunday. I can’t complain. We had our fun down south. Now it’s time to work. But that meant I suffered intense pangs of homesick thinking about my own family on the island gathered around my mom’s dining table. We ended up getting a “sympathy dinner” on Monday night consisting mainly of the previous night’s left-overs, but it thrilled us- especially me, who got her very own Tofurkey completely with Vegan gravy (which I demolished two days later).

But despite the fact that this weekend was filled more with responsibility than festivity, I came out of it feeling pretty bloody blessed.

Friday I was bed-ridden with the worst migraine, complete with room spins and total nausea. By Saturday, I had regained my will to live and poured my coffee into a “to-go” mug and went for a walk with my man to the beach.

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Seriously nature? Can you be any more awe-inspiring? I’ve said it in numerous posts (on this and many of my other blogs), nothing can beat the beauty of nature- it’s insanely spiritual. There are no words. Your eyes take it in and it communes with your inner being.

Cheeseball and truth.

Since then, I have adjusted my morning routine. My half hour of coffee ingestion is done on foot. Creation is the first thing to greet me in the morning, and the inspiration it lends is incomparable. While in Spain a few years ago, I had one of the most soul-shaking experiences of my life: experiencing Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. It is far more than just a building, it echoes creation, all of Gaudi’s work does. I have never been so inspired in my life than I was in that moment when I entered the Sagrada. To see how a man-built environment can be such a soulful experience lit a little flame in me. Design doesn’t have to revolve around the superficial. It doesn’t have to be about $500 throw pillows, or one-upping your neighbours. It can feed us, it can inspire us, it can move us in ways that we can’t put into words but can definitely feel.

Close friends and family know the journey I have been on in coming to this path in life: being a bit of a social-justice-environmentalist-bleeding-heart-i-wanna-change-the-world person who is passionate about creativity and design, and not just in myself, I love to hear about it in other people’s lives. For the most part, people tend to be self-deprecating when they show a painting, drawing or talk about an idea they have that might be considered artistic. But rarely have I ever come across anyones creative/artistic expressions and was anything less than inspired. I truly believe everyone has something to offer and they should really own it.

So how does a teenager who dreamt of being a doctor in Africa, who became psychology major and worked with marginalized young women in the foster system (that so many didn’t want to make time for, but can I just say that I have never witnessed such strength in any other person than these young women- I feel truly blessed to have met every one of them) proceed to the next step of pursuing interior design as a profession?

I have no clue.

But doors keep opening, and when I feel doubtful, I get a nudge- a “keep going, I’ve got plans for you”- I always thought that I would save the world by providing medical care to the third world, or by helping mend broken spirits and hearts to the marginalized. How design fits in, I do not know, but my values are still the same: I feel a responsibility to humanity, justice, and to the environment. The picture is so foggy right now but somehow design will fit that.

School, despite its moutain of work, is going so well. That colour assignment came back to me with a great mark and a note from my professor begging for my permission to make a copy of it to use in future classes. That insane drawing class I took this summer (the professor is famous around school for being the hardest on his students) came with an open invitation to apply at his architectural firm as an student-apprentice, and next week I have an interview with a designer downtown to see if I can do some kind of internship.

Doors. They’re opening. Yes, I am working my butt off, but I feel led. I feel encouraged.

I feel thankful.

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Little Bits of Paper

We make collages in design school. This week’s assignment was to tear a picture out of a magazine and then recreate it using colours we find in magazines. Valentino and John Galliano are both hacked up in there, amongst everything from a bit of a lion’s mane to ocean waves. I spent a LOT of time layering lots of tiny bits of paper onto the blank space beside the original image… and I finally threw upmy hands at 1pm this afternoon. I could spend a year on it and not feel done. So many colour variations to capture. It was a great exercise for colour recognition.20121003-004152.jpg

I knew it was time to move on when I finished putting 6 different pepper-grind sized pieces of paper together to do Alice’s lips.

I have lost my mind. And I am loving it.

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