Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Changes, part I

Do you ever reach a season in life where you realize you're too comfortable? You have a daily routine, you wear the same pair of shoes every day, eat the same old rotation of standby meals. Alarm set for 6:15, standard black flats, Taco Tuesdays. Day in, day out. 

I remember hearing about a study on NPR that suggested taking the same route to work every day actually dulled the neurons in your brain. By sticking to something repetitive, even as simple as your morning commute, certain parts of your brain become weaker.

Change is a good thing. It sparks creativity, leads to personal discovery, expands your boundaries, and apparently strengthens your brain.

Since I haven't been blogging regularly in the past, oh, year or so, I thought I'd slowly ease back into the swing of things with a series of posts about changes. I've had quite a few of them happening in my life lately.  

Recent cover design (in progress) for a book about the Hail Mary

So. I have a new job! A new-old job, I supposed, as a book designer for the publisher I interned at right out of college. Things have come full circle. It's everything my old job was and more -- benefits, hours, workspace, creativity. I'm surrounded by books all day! Living the dream. If I could take my old coworkers (who I miss greatly) and plant them here, I would be all set.

Sometimes I miss the comforts of my old job at Bethel. I had been there long enough that my work was second nature to me -- I had the Pantone swatches memorized, pulled from a folder of all my favorite images, worked within the brand's font family. My department was overworked but in a way it was easy. I instinctively knew what to do, how to make something look "Bethel." I could generate a branded piece in a day, tops, without it looking last-minute.

But that's the problem -- I wasn't thinking critically or creatively with a lot of my work. I wasn't being challenged. I was essentially a design robot, inputting images and text and spitting out a design. It was time for a change.

This new position is so exciting but it is hard, harder than I imagined. It's a Catholic publisher, so all the material I'm working on has a distinctively Catholic twist. I'm familiar with some aspects of Catholicism, but as I'm learning... not nearly as much as I thought. So every new assignment for me takes a ton of verbal and visual research. And now that I'm not working within a set selection of brand fonts and colors, I'm a little overwhelmed with the options I now have. Good problems though, I'm definitely stretching some design muscles that have been dormant since college.

And that's the thing with change, it's different and uncomfortable and scary. But that's exactly what I want. Research and problem solving, stretching and growth. There are times when I feel like the new kid on the first day of school (especially at office potlucks) but I know this change is a step in the right direction.