Right Brainer from Birth

By Tom Bates
  • 07.31.18
  • 3 Min Read

What do you want to be when you grow up? Answering that question can be a job in itself. There’s always pressure from peers and family, trying to sway you in one direction because of status and recognition. But it comes down to who you are deep in your core. For me, it was being an artist! This is the story of how I got there.

As long as I can remember, I’ve always been drawing something – usually things I saw on TV or in a movie. One of my earliest drawing memories came in first grade after Star Wars Episode II hit theaters. We had time every morning before class to practice writing in our journals. But instead of writing, I drew the final battle of the movie with Crayola markers. (In my defense, a picture is worth a thousand words. Mine was at least worth 10,000.) Since then, I’ve always had a pencil and drawing pad next to me for scribbling down anything I find interesting.

I’m a huge comic book nerd. I love the drawings of all the heroes and villains with their dynamic actions and colors. All throughout my middle school and high school years, I was drawing superheroes. But, at the time, I thought art was nothing but a hobby. In the middle of my high school years, the pressure to choose a college and career path set in. I’m from a small town in Iowa where every man is a farmer, businessman or engineer – no artists. And the pressure to choose a similar career path was heavy.

But, at the time, I thought art was nothing but a hobby.

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I went to college to become a mechanical engineer. I liked designing things and was curious about how machines worked. My family has a background in science and engineering, so I figured it would be a perfect fit. Time went on and I was decent at my engineering classes, but they became difficult and tedious. I was determined to make engineering work for me, but it was obvious I was trying to jam a square peg in a round hole. It was miserable, and I was miserable. I got really down on myself because I thought engineering was the only way for me to make it.

I talked with my mom about switching majors, but I had no clue what I was looking for. My mom – always the excellent researcher – discovered the foreign world of graphic design. I had no clue what designers did, but I knew they didn’t have to be physics experts. One afternoon in the library, I was slogging through physics homework, and somewhere between ripping my hair out and slamming my book shut, I reached my breaking point. I stopped what I was working on and left my notebook right there on the table (how dramatic) and marched straight to the art building. It was time to go back to my core. I decided to take the leap and try to be a graphic designer. Strolling into the art building was such a liberating experience.

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Since switching majors, I’m amazed by design. To quote Louis Armstrong, it is a “wonderful world.” Getting paid for something you love to do is incredible. I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to spend my summer as an intern at L&S learning from amazing designers. L&S is truly a family, and the amount of knowledge everyone is willing to share with me is amazing. I definitely took the scenic route to get here, but everything has come full circle, and the journey was well worth it.

This is my advice to young creatives, students or anyone struggling to determine their future path: do the thing that reflects you the best. There are real chances out there to do what makes you happy. It might sound cliché, but it’s absolutely possible!