So, where to begin? I enjoy reading, or at least I do when I can find the time. I am interested in a variety of topics, and have lost count of the number of books I have. I have even run out of bookshelves, so I have stacks of books next to bookshelves. I’m not going to bore you by listing every subject I have books on, so I’ll just review selected ones.
I am interested in history, so I have a number of books on that. I am particularly interested in ancient Greece and Rome, ancient Egypt, the Middle Ages and the American Revolution. I also have some books and materials for the American Civil War and the Cold War. When going over career choices, I always thought being a history teacher would be a fun job, because there are so many creative ways to teach history. I had two particularly good history teachers, one from junior high school and another from high school. They made history a lot of fun and easy to learn, and they were the kind of teachers I’d like to be. Perhaps someday I will go into teaching after I “retire.”
I have a few books on baseball as well, mostly baseball history, which I’ve used as research for a future humorous novel I haven’t been working on for a number of years. How does a search for a cleptomaniac baseball player unearth a government conspiracy? Well, you’ll just have to wait for the book…
I also have an interest in foreign language, and would like to learn more languages. I have books on French, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin), Russian, Polish, Italian and Latin. Latin was my favorite subject in high school, and I did exceptionally well in that class. It is also the only other language I know besides English. My mother’s side of the family is Polish, so I did pick up some Polish phrases here and there, but not enough to be able to converse. As you can probably tell from my last name, my father’s side of the family is German (with some English and Scottish), but, as far as I know, no one in the family speaks German.
At one point, I did consider becoming a psychologist. I was particularly interested in Jungian psychology. I have several books on that as well. I have also enjoyed other aspects of psychology, including body language, handwriting analysis and color testing. While not exactly psychology, I also had an interest in palmistry. I have a “teacher’s square,” which is supposed to mean I have an aptitude for teaching. Perhaps I will one day be a history teacher after all.
I enjoy gardening. Yep, I have books on that too. I like animals as well. I have other interests as well, including cooking, electronics and more, but I’ll spare you the details. I could go on probably forever with all my interests. I am Aquarius; I guess that’s the way I’m supposed to be.
Most of my experience has been in some form of communications. I have seventeen years of experience in the Quick/Small Commercial Printing industry, having run offset presses (Hamada and Ryobi), performed layout and paste-up work (including operating a stat camera), operated bindery equipment (including folders, drills, stitchers, cutters, shrink-wrap machines, numbering machines and bulk mail equipment) and performed bindery tasks (including manually collating, stitching and other assembly tasks), operated copy machines, performed design and typography/typesetting work (and prepared work for output on imagesetters and have hands-on experience with the Varityper 4300P imagesetter), operated vinyl-sign making software and equipment and worked in counter sales.
I have twelve years of experience as a published freelance writer. My publishing credits include several small publications; I have yet to be published in any major publication. I also have twenty-four years of experience in newsletter and small magazine publishing.
I have twenty-one years of computer experience, beginning with Apple II and Atari series computers and now with Macintosh, Power Macintosh, Windows95 and Linux computers (and, soon, BSD UNIX and Sun Solaris). I have done programming (BASIC, some C/C++, some Perl and now learning PHP), desktop publishing and desktop video (did my first “desktop video” on an Apple IIe with a custom program). I’ve also used Adobe Persuasion for desktop presentations. The limited desktop video I have done was primarily non-computerized, using a Panasonic AG-455 S-VHS camcorder, Panasonic S-VHS video recorder and the Panasonic WJ-AVE5 Digital AV Mixer, along with several other accessories. But, I do have some experience with Adobe Premiere and SoundEdit Pro. I have sixteen years of experience in desktop publishing. Additionally, I have several years of experience using the Internet and online services, beginning with CompuServe and local BBS’s in the mid-eighties. And, I have eleven and a half years of experience in web page design.
I enjoy the satisfaction of bringing my own vision to fruition. It’s one thing to take a client’s idea and bring it to life for them, but I think there is something more satisfying about taking your own idea and being responsible for getting it out into the world. It’s not that I don’t enjoy fulfilling the design needs of clients, because I do. It’s a thrill to be able to take a customer’s idea and fulfill or even exceed their vision of the final product. On the other hand, as odd as it may sound, I think it’s more difficult to fulfill your own vision of your own idea. I think that, for your own work, you tend to expect more of yourself. I think there’s a tendency to put a lot more pressure on yourself to be more creative, more expressive, more progressive, etc. for your personal work. And, I think you put together this certain vision, and you’re disappointed if you don’t meet that vision precisely. I believe there’s the self-imposed thought that, because you are a designer, you should be able to render your own ideas flawlessly. Those curves in your artwork need to be just right. The colors just right. I have sometimes spent an inordinate amount of time just tweaking with curves and colors and so forth just to get that precise look you have in mind.
When you get involved in a project, and get very particular about it, you can never be satisfied with the results. You tend to lose objectivity about your own work, and so you always think it should, and could, be better. That’s not necessarily such a bad thing, unless you beat yourself up about it, because it makes you continually strive to do better. You shouldn’t worry about what other designers are doing so much, but primarily concentrate on improving your own work. I like a quote from one of Guy Kawasaki’s books:
“When you compete with a person, you only have to be as good or better than the person to win. If you compete with yourself, there is no limitation on how good you can be.”
–Chin-Ning Chu, in Guy Kawasaki’s How to Drive Your Competition Crazy
So, I think one should continually strive towards self-improvement, without regard to how others are doing. You need to pay attention to competitors, of course, but not so much that you forget about improving your own skills and services!
Back to what I was saying before, I don’t think you can be satisfied with your own work while you’re actively doing it. Okay, sometimes you can be, but more often than not, you’re thinking in the back of your head, I should be able to do better than this! I think the true test of self-satisfaction with your work, whether it’s something you’ve done for yourself or a client, is when you can look at it several months later, when you’re no longer actively doing it and can be a bit more objective, and then be pleased with what you did. You’ll naturally see things that can be improved, but you’ll also be less critical about the minor details that drove you batty when you were doing it.
Copyright 1996-2007 Dan C. Rinnert. All rights reserved.