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Returning to my first love - part 4: Signs

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

So what's so great about signs? Well, they are a primordial visual tool and art form of mankind. Whether it's pictograms/icons, directional arrows, color combinations, shapes, etc.. their job is to tell you something. But they also have the simultaneous beauty of conveying messages beyond what the letters say. And they are everywhere. I bet if you look around where you are right now you'll see many signs in view of one form or another. Then try to find a place where they're not. (don't forget that signs are in digital form too!) Then think about your area with no signs at all and what that would feel like. (especially in Chicago traffic! - wait that might not matter.. anyway) Signs are in fact, essential in every aspect.


Not once did I hear a single thing about the sign trade when I was in high school or college. I thought about signs when seeing really unique cool ones once in a while, but never really thought about where they came from. Perhaps it was because there are so many and we didn't have Google back then either so it took more time. But I now suspect why it's so understated... if kids knew that early on they could have this kind of fun most anywhere in the world playing with paints, drawings, lettering, cartoons, artwork, gigantic sheets of colored tape, plastics, metals and other cool colored materials of all kinds, brilliant lights and lighting, even the excitement of installations up high in the air from a wobbly boom truck and razor blade throwing fights in the shop and ...uh whoops - figuring out new and cool ways to get attention with some of the weirdest people that have ever wandered the planet... AND make a living at it? Uh hello? Bye bye class! I've done decided already... CYAL8R


But being oblivious of that, and like a lot of other teens I had no idea what I really wanted to do for a living, nor what was actually available out there. So I graduated high school in 1984 (born in 66 - probably the luckiest year ever to be born, just sayin') and in 84 the computer revolution was just emerging. Part of that luck is that my high school had some of the first computer classes way back when it started and was introduced to computers at their 'cutting edge'. Granted, they were commodore 64's (Yeah, not long after pong, I know). But it didn't take long for a mad creation addict to realize that this was soon going to change the world in an unprecedented way and most definitely had a creative element, but there was nothing available at college that was anything near useful in personal computing at that time. Well, except for one joke class called 'technical computations' which was a 3 credit hour lab to do a 3 minute for/next loop (a really simple concept in the programming world - even back then). It was useful for the extra time to party at our buddy's apartment in Highland, learn to smoke cigarettes, drink, and try all kinds of... uhm studying other subjects.. yeah. Just typical college stuff. But anyway I digress.... I ended up choosing my major(s) as Architectural & Civil Engineering Technology. Why? Because there were no pertinent computer classes available and they had the most to offer in a 'real job' that had as many creative/art aspects within it as I could get. A shot in the dark.


So then, about 2 years into college I worked for an architect in Crown Point that was handling the Walgreens buyout of Ribordy Drugs doing as-built drawings. (basically making updated floor plans of the existing stores prior to construction). Boring. Tedious. Slow. Repetitive. Conforming. Compliant... I couldn't stand it! I never hated drawing as much in my life and suddenly saw a dark and very long cloud approaching over life's landscape. So then I realized this entire school pursuit may have paid more money eventually (which it didn't after all), but what's that worth if you'd rather slide down a razor blade into a pool of alcohol every day? By then I also had family responsibilities too so there was not much time to look for something else. But I felt that if something wasn't done now the rest of my professional life would be misery and without that creativity in my life as a refuge it would literally be the end of me. (and would have been knowing what I know now) Things really looked bleak, but at the same time I was beginning my exploration into scripture and already had a deep belief in God, so I prayed about it. A lot. And then all of the sudden something out of the blue... I'll start there in the next post.


May all things go well with you.










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