Playing A New Game

Take a chance on yourself.

Hi. I hope the new year is treating you well. So far it’s not bad from here. True, I have a cold, but those happen. No sense taking it personally. I get frustrated when I get sick. Long story, but I took a long time to get around to living my own life, so I tend to think I shouldn’t take down time. I have “too much to catch up on!”

But I realized recently that I can’t start from anywhere but where I am, and can’t start as anyone but myself. I am who I am and I am where I am, and if sometimes it feels like I’m not where I “should” be, is that a useful idea? So I’m working on not living in the past, or trying to live in the future, or constantly measuring myself or my life against some invisible yardstick. This moment, cold and all, isn’t bad.

A friend of ours just got her driver’s license. She’s over 30 and had never intended to do anything but use Uber and Lyft and public transit, but she got a chance at a new job and they need her to drive occasionally. So, nervous as she was, she faced it head on and learned to drive. She’s continuing to challenge herself, learn new things, and go in whatever direction looks best to her at the time. That’s brave, not to get stuck in a rut because anything else is unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

I’m learning new things. For the first time, I got hired to create the art for a CD cover. It’s not something I had done before, but I met with the musician and his producer, they liked my ideas, so I decided to stretch myself and learn to do a new thing. We’re all happy with how the final artwork turned out, but I admit, it was a nervous business in the beginning. I wanted to do a good job for the client, and my own pride in my work.

I researched the covers in his genre of music and gave it some thought — it seemed to¬† make sense to honor the conventions of his genre (blues rock), but not simply be “one more in a herd of just that.” So we (yes, I created the artwork, but he had choices to make and participated in the creation) took a common theme in his genre and changed it up. It still fits his genre, but it won’t be just like hundreds of other covers. Still, could I pull off my idea?

Here’s one thing I figured out — most music is sold online now, which means a potential customer could first see it as a postage-stamp-sized picture on a phone or tablet. It used to be that album covers had to work in a fairly large size, that of an LP record. Then 45s came in, and the images had to work smaller. Then audio cassettes, now online sites showing pages of little “stamps.” The cover has to work at the size of, say, a tee shirt, and at that postage stamp size. I poured hours into creating an image that would be clear and interesting whether it was scaled up or scaled down. So I learned a new thing — to create artwork that works no matter what size it is.

I’m trying new media artistically, and trying new things as a writer. Who knows how successful it will all be, but I’m trying. Like our friend, I’m learning all I can and then getting in there. It’s like a roller coaster. Sometimes scary, sometimes exhilirating. I hope your new year brings you just enough of the right kinds of challenges to keep you growing.

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