Uncovering Inspiration and Passion: A Reflection

Design student Solvita Marriott of Ephrata, PA was one of the 2007 TRTMSTATBGDSTAUHC recipients and was recognized at the 2007 HOW Design Conference. Here’s her winning essay:

When working on a design project I look for inspirations. Often I turn to the history of art: great artists and different art movements. Sometimes I can be inspired by ordinary things around me; architectural lines in the building across the street, color of the summer sky, pattern of fall foliage in the park, texture of an old painted wall. Sometimes inspiration bursts into my life and I have no doubt about it. But there are other times when inspiration sneaks up on me. It enters my mind, guides my thoughts and finds its way into my work.

A few months ago I was driving on a highway in early spring and I looked at the branches of bare trees against the gray sky and I suddenly realized that that was where I got the inspiration for images I was creating for a book. It was the exact image, including the dark and eerie mood, which I was working on at that time. It was an amazing discovery. I never really noticed it before although I was passing that same wooded area every day.

In the very beginning when I started to study graphic design, I couldn’t even do my homework every day. I was waiting for "inspiration." I didn’t realize that it was already inside me. Now I know that it is the passion that drives me. And passion is necessary for good design. Only if someone has passion, can they work long hours and enjoy it. Only passion can allow one to create good design and give that person the power to start the project over from very beginning again and again. It is also this passion that doesn’t allow an artist to be satisfied with work that is not of the highest quality. I would often complain during my project about my teachers who wanted me to change the smallest detail on the page or to change all of my concepts and start all over again. But it was their passion for great design that helped make my passion come to light. Their passion to train young designers can only lead to those same students becoming passionate about their work.

For me it is important to have people around me who are passionate about living, designing, and learning. It is important to be willing to grow. I am afraid of stopping at one point in my life and being comfortable with where I am. I fear that I will be afraid to explore the unknown, afraid of to make mistakes, or afraid to start over. One has to enjoy the process of exploration and it should become their life. I fear that one day I will just want to get results as quick as possible instead of enjoying the discovery and enjoying the process. There shouldn’t be a point in a life when someone stops and says: "This is it. I have reached everything I have ever wanted." There is always more that can be learned. I fear becoming careless because everything I do matters, everything counts. I also fear becoming trendy in my designs. I do not want to limit myself to the current trends. Style doesn’t matter; it is the idea or concept that counts. I want my designs be timeless.

My passion is typography. And only now when I am thinking about it that I realize that my first encounter with typography and page design was a long time ago when I was in middle school. I was taking drawing class with an artist, Marite Klusa. And at that time I just liked to draw, I didn’t know anything about graphic design. I had a calligraphy assignment in which I had to write a poem. It wasn’t easy and I had to do it over and over again until it was perfect. I learned about the shape of letters, about the spacing of letters and words, about the spacing of lines and about the color of the page. I didn’t even know anything about it back then. It is amazing to realize that this was where my love of good typography came from.

It is important to have people who inspire me around me; people who want me to grow and who want me to learn. I have been lucky to have great teachers at Tyler School of Art who have taught me to pay attention to the smallest details and also showed me the importance of hard work. They always inspire their students to do better, and to be the best they could. Joe Scorsone and Alice Drueding are teachers whom I learned the most from. They taught me to look at things from different angles, and not to always go with the obvious solution. They will not stop being teachers and mentors after their students graduate. They are interested in career decisions even after their students graduate and are always ready to give advice. Joe jokes that we have become his students for life and we all feel that way too.