Are you laughing yet after that picture?
I should have titled this Why Emily Henderson and I are sooo cool or Emily Henderson is famous and I am not, but we both had ‘style’ journals or just simply This post is all Emily Henderson’s fault. I just realize I lost major cool points, but bear with me.
Yesterday, I read a really great post by one of my favorite self-taught designers. Guess who? Emily Henderson shared a bit about her early years and how she started in the world of design in her post My ‘Style’ Journal. Domaine also recently shared 8 Top Interior Designers Who Were Self-Taught and that list might surprise you! This opened a can of worms and walk down memory lane for me that I just feel compelled to share today. I actually had another post ready to go, but I made an executive decision to move that to next week.
I too had a ‘style’ journal during my college years. Exhibit A that you see above there. It contained mostly images from Architectural Digest and fashion mags with the occasional sketch or really bad poem. And, I was obsessed with building my dream house and have blue prints folded up and stuffed into the built-in folders. I looked through it yesterday, and I guess in 1997, I felt compelled to write a poem titled Antelope People. Just for the record, I was not on drugs–I was just weird, but in a good way. Oh, and that lovely cover? Let’s talk about that for a second! I was obsessed with this futuristic spread in Vogue…and the rose, well, I have always had a love of roses. My bedroom growing up had rose curtains with a matching comforter that I hand-picked from the JCP catalog. Oh, and spy with your little eye how I tried to laminate the cover with packing tape. #classy
I always find these posts where successful designers share their not so polished starts uplifting, since, I too, did not get my degree in Interior Design. Their lack of proper design credentials doesn’t take away from the fact that they are extremely talented and successful. I give kudos to those who knew what they wanted to do right away in life and went for that degree. I was on the other side on my tip-toes looking in.
So, I guess you are going to take a little impromptu walk down memory lane with me today.
I was a creative child. I would spend hours drawing and sketching. It was one of the things that I was gifted in from an early age. I would even rearrange furniture and style things that to my 7-year-old eye looked AMAZEBALLS. My mother or Grandma were not too pleased with my tremendous styling skills.
I dabbled in so many artistic things that I really had a case of creative paralysis by the time I began college. I started as a journalism major and worked on the college newspaper. I then decided to become an art major. This is what really got me in touch with what I loved stylistically. When Emily talked about her style journal, I immediately had a flashback to my college days. I carried around this beat up notebook of clippings and magazine pages. Anything that inspired me was in there in some kind of disorder I thought was cool. It was a mess of a book.
I took a ton of art classes, studied art history, and eventually stumbled upon interior design needing to fill an elective credit. I was hooked. I had no idea until that moment in my first design class, that I could play with architecture and furniture placement and work in my love of art for a career. I had never had that seed planted by the adults in my life or a mentor to help guide me. My parents didn’t graduate college and really didn’t encourage me one way or the other when it came to my path in life. (They are not bad parents, by the way, they are lovely people–just so we make that clear.) It had never even dawned on me to go for it. The stumbling blocks of a creative who wants to try everything and has no idea what path to take in life. Keep in mind, this was in the 90’s, before blogs, before designers had hit TV shows. I think Trading Spaces had come out a few years later on TLC. I remember watching Genevieve Gorder glue moss to a client’s bedroom wall and thinking she was some kind of crazy genius. Besides seeing the unattainable properly schooled designers in the glossy mags, I enjoyed watching these wacky not so traditional designers challenged by budgets and their surroundings. Then, life happened and I moved to another state.
Flash forward to moving back to my hometown and getting married. I married pretty young at age 22. Our first apartment was so deliciously wonderful. I wish blogs would have been around during that time because I would have plastered it all over the web. But, I think that was still dial-up days and maybe pre-Google even. Remember dial-up? Waiting to connect while it sounded like a cat screaching.
Then, kids happened. Priorities changed. I enjoyed making our house a home, but was so busy with other things, mainly cleaning up after kids (I ran a daycare from my house) that my love for design was on the back burner.
It wasn’t until I discovered design blogs and the doors blogging could open, that I really embraced I am going to do this. I am going to somehow become a designer. Well, I’ve always been a designer, I just needed direction and a platform. I feel truly confident in saying that now on some authority. I took a handful of interior design courses in college to understand the history of design, architecture, how to draw up blueprints and elevations to scale. I learned about furniture and textiles. My art background also fits into that. Even those early childhood glimpses of art ability and ‘styling’ have ushered me down this path. I feel like all these things in my life have led me to start this design blog and now say with confidence I AM A DESIGNER…should that be followed with HEAR ME ROAR? My love of writing, design, and photography have made some cosmic collision and the universe is telling me this is a great fit and I am a designer, self-taught.
My early posts on this blog, well… some are really cringe-worthy. I think I made a paper scrapbook bird. Yikes. With that aside, there were some really great moments early on too, enough to fuel the fire and keep me going. Blogging has made me embrace my own true style. When you are passionate and driven you can really go after the things you love. It’s even better when your raw ability and talent collide with that passion. After 2 going on 3 consistent years of design blogging, I have had some ‘pinch me’ moments already. This has also opened the door for me to do design work for others outside of this blog which is so exciting.
I guess what I am saying is that whether you are self-taught or formally schooled as an interior designer, it really comes down to passion and talent.
So, from the bottom of my heart, this big pile of mush wants to say thank you. In my own way, this is a love letter to all of you, my cyber support system.
Thank you to all of you who have been my champions. Who have nudged, given me amazing opportunities, or left an encouraging comment. Here I am, stuck in the middle of the USA, the heartland of America, and everyday I get to talk to all of you around the world about design. I get to share how I design and this has been one crazy awesome ride so far.
I am excited to see where else this will go. And it’s so great to have a path now and some concrete ideas of things I want to pursue. It’s an exciting list, trust me. The more I go along this path and encounter like-minded creatives and people in the design industry, I have seen myself come into my own distinctive style and grow as a designer. I guess age 35 is the year I can say confidently what I want to do in life.
I’d love to hear your experience with design blogging and know if you have had the same bumpy road to design? Or if you are a designer, what you think of designers who did not graduate college with a design degree in hand? Does talent speak for itself?
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