Career Pathways: Web Design, Development, Production look interesting.

I’m not going to be able to stay here for long (getting sick, need rest), but I wanted to note something down before heading to bed: it looks like the goal I had before, of becoming a Web Designer first and then transitioning into a Web Developer, is not a bad option!

A while back I had a friend advise me not to take on a career as a programmer, though they didn’t tell me why. (I still don’t know why, and if I would care; I should ask them.) I ran as search as to why this might be the case…and I need to do some more research, but the main issue that I care about — besides technology constantly updating, meaning that things break routinely — is that programmers are seen by employers as interchangeable. And often, it’s cheaper for a company to outsource this labor.

So I don’t have to go whole-hog and become a software developer. Web Design is more in line both with my skills, and with what I’m being taught. Having Development skills, in addition, would give me a leg up. A page I found at SkillCrush is particularly encouraging. The only thing I will be really missing, on graduation, is training in Typography. I do know a place where I can take that class, though…or I could research and learn it on my own.

Of course, I’m planning to go into a job as a Librarian right after graduation, and build my tech skills on the side; I don’t expect to get the MLIS and then be — ready? to head right into a Design job. (I also wonder if a Design job would mean taking a pay/benefits cut, relative to being a Librarian.)

And then there is the possibility of becoming a Web Producer, which is like being a Content Editor…also very interesting, and a possible extra option.

Well, my eyes are burning and my nose is starting to, as well. I also heard that some others were sick at the office, so maybe I should just let this be, for now, and get some rest…

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Future directions?

It wasn’t until I logged on last night that I realized I had been away from blogging (at this blog, at least), for four days(!). There are a number of things going on, the most pressing of which is Finals (though that will be completely over by the end of next week). Otherwise…I am going to have some work to do in archiving what I’ve done in the past semester (including the forum posts).

One final is entirely done with, and that is the final in which I had to interact with other people — not the easiest work, for me. Right now what I have left are my Web Design final, and my final for Digital Archives. I’ve got the idea that…I may actually want to look into software development…but I’m not sure my concept of what that work is like, is accurate.

The idea is to do another Master’s in Computer Science, though I’m not sure that will give me what I need. I’ve been dealing with online information and tutorials which seem more my speed. (I was even thinking that I might be able to use these in lieu of an in-person Computer-Science-101-type course, as they’re more targeted to my needs.)

What I’m finding is that Web Development may actually be more suited to me than Web Design (amazingly!), because of the interaction with users that designers have to deal with. (It seems like people automatically assume everyone is OK with this.) In effect, from my (limited) experience, it seems like people on the User Experience (UX) side of things need really good social skills, and I would expect this to be closer to a Web Design role than a Web Developer role.

That is, Library Science is closer to Social Science, and Information Science is closer to Computer Science…I think.

In turn, Web Development looks like it will need experience in a type of math I don’t yet know (Discrete Math); and…well, I was about to say I hadn’t taken a math class since high school, but that’s not true.

I took Statistics in undergrad, began and then dropped Calculus (it’s very hard not knowing if you’re doing things correctly or not; I dropped right before the first test)…and did a little bit of Accounting, before I got (physically) very sick and had to drop because I fell behind (I missed a four-hour class and didn’t know how I even could make that up, without sitting with the professor and having him teach me for another four hours).

Calculus was interesting, just harrowing. I think, though, that if I want a job away from the public, I’ll have to deal with the math. I’m fairly certain that if I’m learning math that I’m going to apply in some way (like to be able to issue commands to a computer), it will help with my motivation in learning it.

Applications of what we were learning weren’t even on the table, in my high school math classes, though Statistics, Calculus, and Accounting (all in Community College) all had very obvious applications, and I think Discrete Math does, too.

The issue I had in my early math classes was being so good at math that I received hostility for it from my peers (because I was female)…which made me not want to touch math, ever again. But if I was good at it, that means I have the capability.

Of course, though, I’d like to get my present loans dealt with, before getting into another Master’s program!

Wanting to work in an illustrative style.

transparency with intensity.

I realize now, that what I’ve been looking for in watercolors, acrylic inks, and inks is the strength and intensity of color I’ve found in heavy-body acrylics and gouache, but transparent. The transparency feature is mainly to allow me to take an illustrative/drawing approach (with visible lines instead of only blocks of color), so that I can scan the images and it will still come out looking alright.

One of my last art instructors said that the difference between drawing and painting, is that there are generally no lines in paintings, only blocks of color; which is the clearest definition I think I’ve heard.

digital media.

I think I know what to do at this point; which is to work with transparent, fluid inks (such as Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks), or transparent liquid watercolor (such as Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant Concentrated Watercolor), and just resign myself to the fact that the inks are fugitive (will fade/change color over time), and my scan (a high-resolution uncompressed TIFF file) is likely going to be the archival copy of my work.

This also means that the archival copy is going to be digital…making multiple and regular backups useful, if not necessary. This will also necessitate migrating my work whenever older formats become obsolete…and I have some experience with that from my Digital Archives class.

painting surfaces and supports.

It also means that, if I’m going to scan these things, I’m really going to have to watch for cockling (warping) in whatever I draw + paint on. I might be moving to Mixed Media paper for this, though; instead of cotton-based watercolor paper, which is intended to be archival. (There’s no point to painting with colors that are expected to fade, on top of a surface made to last hundreds of years.)

I haven’t tried Bristol board for this, either. It’s worth a shot. And I haven’t tried Illustration board — to be honest, I still don’t know how to use Illustration board and control its warping with water, at the same time. (It tends to expand and contract unevenly, depending on what area is wet, and how wet it is. The wetter it is, the more convex it becomes.)

Also worth a shot are a couple of QoR mediums which could allow me to draw and paint with watercolor on board, as versus paper, but that’s probably further than I need to reach. If I stretch (or tape — I’m not sure Mixed Media paper can stand outright wet-stretching) paper onto Masonite and then shear out the final copy with an X-Acto and straightedge, I should be OK. I just can’t bet on using the entire sheet up to the true edge of the paper.

Of course, Masonite itself…likely isn’t the best substrate (it begins to fall apart on me when I pull the tape off). D suggested acrylic sheet as a backing, while I was thinking along the lines of a flat sheet of melamine. I don’t know if either will work, but I know what I’m doing now is (or would be, if I were painting a lot) kind of wasteful, as Masonite isn’t all that strong when it comes to working with water and adhesives. At least I would be able to remove tape from acrylic, without damaging the acrylic.

dusty watercolors. import, optimization, display.

One sad thing about importing photos onto my computer is that the chroma (color intensity) always looks stronger on the screen, than it is in reality. I’m not entirely sure why this is.

But then, I’m not entirely sure why color distortions happen in my camera, in general. I mean — I know it has to do with the lighting, and probably the specific wavelengths put out by whatever light is being used, and the camera accounting and compensating for that (or something like it). I just feel like I need tighter control of the photography angle of this.

The problem is that I don’t know much about digital photography — or, traditional photography, for that matter. I do know about Photoshop, but it’s knowledge that is very practical and not anything that lets me understand what I’m actually doing when I edit the Black and White points on a color channel’s Histogram.

But like I said before — I have a working color scanner that can encode into TIFF, so improving my digital photography skills and getting a better camera isn’t urgent or necessary at all to publish to the Web, at this point. It’s pretty much taken care of.

I just ran across someone online mentioning that colors in her watercolor paintings tended not to look as intense over time as she would like; and though I’m mostly dealing with paint swatches at this point (my watercolor painting time pretty much ended in Fall 2016), I can relate to a dusty, faded look in watercolors. It could be because of the fact that I’ve been trying (note, trying) to use them from a dried-and-rehydrated state instead of a moist (fresh from the tube) state, or it might have to deal with formulation.

branching out. watercolor brands and mediums.

Right now I’m primarily using Winsor & Newton, with one Grumbacher and one M. Graham (which I love — I’m just not sure if the ❤ is a property of the pigment [PY3: Arylide Yellow] or the rest of the paint! This is a brand which uses honey in its formulation as a humectant [do NOT eat it!], which could be why the color blossoms so freely).

I’ve also relatively recently gotten a couple of Daniel Smith colors and two Holbeins (Lamp Black, and Isoindolinone Yellow Deep [PY110]), but I haven’t been able to play with them decently, yet. It’s possible that a bit of an added watercolor medium (Ox Gall? Gum Arabic?) might be able to at least help the paints adhere better, let alone be more brilliant. But I (obviously!) haven’t researched this, yet.

Cerulean Blue Chromium (PB36) from Daniel Smith, in particular, granulates really strongly when mixed with Winsor Yellow (PY154, Benzimidazolone Yellow). I threw the test page out because there was too much risk of the [toxic: cobalt-based] pigment falling off and scattering, plus it looked horrible. I have photos of it, but they’re not great, and I’m not sure I knew what I was doing in the first place.

I’m also thinking that I will likely want to branch out from Winsor & Newton Professional grade. They’re fine to learn with (their tiny [5ml] tubes mean a lower initial investment for higher-quality paints than student-grade), but there are other brands and colors which could be more pleasant to work with, and to view over time.

And you can see my endless search for useful yellow pigments from the above (not to mention my initial green-leaning yellow: my Watercolor professor had us get Aureolin [PY40: Cobalt Yellow] which I hate largely for its toxicity and impermanence combined with its cost…though it does make nice graded mixes, in the short term).

don’t judge me 😀

thought shift: from permanence to ephemerality

I just have enough experience to know that if I’m working in Illustration or in an illustrative style, I will probably want to go for colors which are vivid and truly transparent…but that transparency comes with a price, which is the potential of having artwork that only exists temporarily, in the non-digital world. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful, online (or in print).

At the same time, I still feel that this hybrid approach is more flexible than a born-digital approach, but I don’t want to alienate people with my feelings on that. They’re largely based on personal experience, and I’m very aware my personal experience has bias. Maybe if and when I can compose a defensible argument to one end or another, for a reason that is important enough to broach, I might say something, but otherwise, I’m not interested in causing disturbance.

It’s kind of interesting, though: shifting from a mindspace of “will this painting last for the next 600 years?” to “am I OK if this thing I’m working on biodegrades soon?” I mean, it’s kind of a different approach! But then, in my Digital Archives class, I’m learning that digital information is ephemeral by nature.

I wonder how long I’ve been working on this draft? 🙂

Yes, something happened.

One good thing:  I restarted reading What’s the Alternative?:  Career Options for Library and Info Pros by Rachel S. Gordon.  This…helps.  Having options outside of working in a library is a good thing, even though I get the sense that this is a political issue with some.  That is, I get the sense that some would feel “betrayed” if I decided to take a different path.  But the Library world is weird like that.

For me, though, the “outsourcing” of library work to other specialized groups, means that I can work for some other specialized group, as versus working directly for, say, a Public Library:  the work in which, I’m not sure is a recipe for happiness, for me.

Also, the track I’m on (Digital Services), includes most of the path of Web Design/Info Architecture plus more.  All of the core courses are covered, and some of the “Recommended” courses in the Web Design path that aren’t in the Digital Services path, aren’t even given.  So it’s a good bet, if I do want to go into Web Design, to hold steady.  (I doubt that Design will be as Computer-Science-centric as Web Development…)

I will, though, have to educate myself on the aesthetic dimensions:  a lot of my work so far has dealt with usability, coding, and organization.  Which are all fine…but as someone who is into Art, too, I might want to look into visual elements of Design.

And — ha!  I have some books on Design that I haven’t read, on my bookshelf right now.

Wow…a lot of them, actually.

I also came up with the idea of interactive textbooks, but did a little research, and Pearson already has started working on this.  (Maybe I can work for Pearson?)  In addition, there seems to be a lot of work on this as regards Apple (another possibility), on mobile and tablet devices.  The interlacing here of technology, creating teaching programs, writing the textbook, and gamifying is interesting.  For the first time we have the option of making our “textbooks” into interactive multimedia computer programs…that might be able to be either downloaded or carried on a MicroSD card, or similar.

I doubt I would have come up with the idea, if it were not for my Nintendo DS…yes, probably a bit outdated by this time, but The Legend of Zelda:  Phantom Hourglass was the first time a game ever asked me to write an answer to a puzzle (I’m wondering if it used anything related to “Least Squares” in sensing what my answer was)…would it be that different, say, if you were watching a language-learning video or reading a passage of text and could practice writing in the textbook?  With scores or something to show you how well you did, and without using up physical space with blank paper on which to write?  And what about voice recording and recognition?

What else has been happening…I’ve been slowly getting my reading for User Experience done, though I’m not certain if I’ll have to work on anything due this weekend (I’ve kind of been having a tough time for the last several days, and haven’t even checked the message boards).  I know I have one thing due in one more week, but it shouldn’t be hard.  Though I will have to drag myself back over there and see what’s due.

Anyway.  I just think that I’m not a very social person.  But I’m being graded on my engagement, so there’s that.  Whatever.

Oh, right:  the art and craft storage area has again been rearranged.  There’s…a lot more room, now…

And I think that it’s best to ignore my sibling’s insistence that I write a story before attempting the artwork for it.  The time I came closest to actually having a story and a graphic novel, that story developed out of my drawings.  And I’m going to have **** drawings if I wait until after I’ve written a story before I try to draw anything.

That makes sense, right?

I should get some rest…

First post…kind of rambly.

It’s been a few days since I set this blog up.  In that time, a few things have happened, though none of it really gives me a clear view as to where my interests really lie.  Plus, only some of it is suitable for public consumption…

I’m set up to go back to community college classes in Fall; I have Summer off.  The past couple of weeks have been pretty intense.  The financial aid application and Master’s application for the Library program have been set in motion, but more and more I’m coming to see that working in a public library is an instructional/management/customer service occupation.  This is not really where I want to be.  I mean, I’m not a social person, and library work in the higher ranks would require me to be social for at least a good chunk of my time…if I worked in a Public Library.

My main competitor to this is Web Design.  The training would cost a lot less, it would probably be easier (at least at this stage), and it would put me into the tech field and away from the general public.  It’s also a lot more lucrative than Library Science, but a lot less certain.

I am set up to take Intermediate Drawing, come Fall.  This is majorly so that I can see if I actually still like drawing, and start to draw what I want to draw instead of still-lifes, all the time.  Still-lifes are good for skill building, but it’s like those oil paintings of bowls of fruit — what is that saying, really, or is it just for practice or to show off skill?  There’s a difference to me between skill and creativity; I think that to be a good artist, a person has to have both.  It’s hard to have both when you haven’t done the hard work, but at the same time, the hard work does not guarantee the inspiration.

I’m very close to a stage-one certificate in Animation…what’s keeping me out is the fact that I am not certain of the possibilities of the field, and I’m not certain where or with whom I’d work.  But I suppose that’s always the case.

I’m also not certain if I still love to draw as much as I did when I was younger, and am just stuck in a rut of “what I can draw well.”  Which, you know, gets boring, and when it gets boring I move on to other things.  I’ve thought of using my time during Summer to attempt to challenge myself with trying new things (hopefully things that can contribute to earning money — I don’t know why making tatted doilies came up at all, other than that it was challenging), and learn about these different career paths.

We actually were cleaning out some of the art + craft shelves at my home the other night, and I found my giant pads of paper with drawings still in them, and a lot of blank pages!  😀  What is most difficult for me is trying to figure out what to draw…if I were an Animator, this would become more clear to me.  At least I’d have a set of guiding principles to attempt to express in images.  It kind of runs backward from the way I normally carry out my art (I usually draw first and look for meaning later — could be why it’s hard for me to begin), but I think that drawing to an intended end could be a good exercise for me, at least.

I’m thinking that if I still like Drawing, I could take Web Design classes and augment them with Graphic Arts and Fine Arts classes.  Drawing is really very fundamental as a medium of communication.  I’ve taken two semesters of it, and at the end of the last session (2010?) we were just beginning to break into color.  I’d like to use color a lot more!  On my craft blog, I’ve spoken about what a large motivator color and color dynamics are to me.  It would seem, then, that painting would be something I’d get into?  Watercolor, I’ve very much wanted to try; I’ve just been daunted by the extremely precise-seeming nature of it.  Acrylic…I’ve made some attempts with, but not very many.  Oil paints, I’ve never used; though I do recall there are now water-soluble oil formulations, meaning no turpentine or mineral spirits.  I’ve seen the effects of toxicity from fumes associated with oil painting…something I’d like to avoid.

Then there is this thing which happened within the last few years in my State…apparently there was a crackdown and suddenly everything was labeled as possibly containing cadmium.  I’m not entirely sure what that was about or if it’s still in effect.  What I’m guessing is that everything that might have had some cadmium in it, maybe, or which had not been tested, might have gotten the *toxic!* label.  I really don’t know, and have been intending to research it.  What I do know, I’ve heard from art store employees, some of whom were also art school students.  I think it’s worth looking into, even though the scare may be over.  It’s been a while since I’ve been into an art store to look at the pastels and chalks.

But anyhow, what happened to jump me onto that cadmium track was the fact that a lot of the pastels picked up the warning.  I really do like to work with pastels; but the way they stain my hands and get everywhere is a bit of a cause for concern, to me.  Not like I don’t like it — I feel like, you know, an official artist when the blue-green won’t come out of my fingertips — but I know I’m absorbing the majority of that color…and I know art supplies aren’t known for being healthy.  😉  And then there is the fixative thing and how spray fixative isn’t really good for you to breathe, but the alternative is hairspray; and without it your pastel painting will probably be messed up; and with it, your colors may be altered; so go out in the garage with your organics + particulates respirator (I actually have one of these now, I think) and spray or use Aqua Net, etc.

But as someone who hasn’t often used paint, pastels are a stepping stone into it, it seems.

And toxic compounds can actually have really good working properties, even though they’re unhealthy.  I’m thinking of a certain brand of xylene-based markers which blend beautifully but fume to high heaven.  I literally cannot make myself get marker lines when I use these on marker paper — they’re that good.  But the xylene is cause for concern.  The formulation has been altered to make them a bit less bad for you, but still.  The headache one gets when using them in an unventilated space…and tales of solvent-sniffing teenagers, don’t help.  :/

I’d been set up to take a Computer Science course in Fall, but am planning on dropping it.  I tend to take on too much and then have to bail 1/3 of the way through the semester and run and catch up for the last 2/3.  Not fantastic.  The Comp Sci course also puts me close to half-time on its own, so getting rid of it will free up a lot of hours.  The only reason I’m keeping it for now is that I want to see the syllabus.  A short paragraph in the catalog is not enough to tell me what the class covers.

Anyhow…I realize that both Graphic Arts and Web Design are obviously computer-based, at this time.  It’s just that for me, it’s more intuitive to be able to draw things out in gigantic hard copy and then transfer over those brainstorms into the computer.  I’m not quite a digital native; I grew up during a time when we still hand-wrote our final essays in pen!  So…quite.

If I look at my academic history, as well…I mean, just from memory…it looks like I actually am more of an arts — or, specifically — a creative/communications person.  And I’ve realized that Graphic Design is basically visual communications.  It’s just that, maybe, you’ve got to know what you’re willing to help communicate.  Or, maybe that is an artificial barrier that I’m erecting so that I don’t take this route.

I do have a book here that I bought a while back called How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul, which may be very instructive at this time.  Now, at least, that I’ve gotten out of the Marketing class.  Seriously.  Seriously disliked that class.  But it’s useful to know why what decisions are made when…when it isn’t all in the marketer’s head, that is…