Last week I began the sordid confession of my failure as an interior designer. Here’s the rest of it:
The very first project we were assigned in university was ‘design cards’: Once a week we were given a short paragraph describing a design concept. We were to choose or create artwork that illustrated the concept, mount the artwork on the card, and copy the paragraph in our best drafting hand. The only guidance we were given was, “It should look like a piece of jewellery”.
Apparently I’m not good at designing jewellery. Most of mine looked more like “a piece of shit”.
The card that launched me to the front of the class for public ridicule was titled “Texture”. I’d had a brilliant (or so I thought) idea: ‘Way back in grade school we had rolled coloured tissue paper into small balls and glued the balls to a backing to create a textured design.
So that’s what I did, in a tasteful blue-green that was the current colour fad at the time.
The professor was Not Amused. (In fact, I seem to recall him asking, “Is this a joke?”)
I still don’t understand. I thought it illustrated texture perfectly.
My near-failures mounted, mercifully blurring together in my memory. The only other one that stands out was a study of structure, in which I attempted to create an archway by gluing sugar cubes together. ‘Nuff said about that.
It soon became obvious that I should be either ejected from the faculty or euthanized to prevent further suffering to both me and the interior design profession; but Fate (vindictive bitch that she is) had other ideas.
Halfway through second year my mother died of cancer, and the professors were far too sympathetic. They cut me some slack and didn’t fail my crap projects outright; and in the ultimate irony, my stellar marks in all the non-design courses dragged my grade-point average high enough to land me on the Dean’s Honour Roll.
Then came fourth year. By that time I knew I sucked, but I didn’t know what to do about it and I didn’t realize quitting was an option. I struggled with my thesis all year and finally handed in a steaming heap that reeked so badly even the most merciful professor couldn’t find enough redeeming qualities to pass it.
I failed. I’d never failed anything academic in my life.
With characteristic bullheadedness, I slogged away at it until they finally granted my degree; probably because the professors were sick of the sight of me. It certainly wasn’t for the merit of my work.
And so I was unleashed on the unsuspecting design community.
I won’t go into all the humiliating details. Let’s just say that by the time one of my employers announced in a staff meeting that “Diane can’t design her way out of a paper bag” (her words verbatim), it was almost a relief to have it confirmed aloud.
I switched to drafting and project management, which I enjoyed and was good at; and from there I transitioned into an IT career I loved.
The funny (or sad) thing about all this is that I could probably have done all right in almost any other career. I’m actually good at quite a few things, but design is just not one of them.
And after that convoluted career path, I’ve ended up writing novels for a living, which is the best career yet.
I love happy endings!