keeping the mystery…

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12/11/2010 by Sarah Ritchie

It’s jolly decent of anyone who writes a step-by-step “how to” book (especially the art ones…thank you!). Can you imagine what life would be like if no-one shared what they knew and we were all left to “re-invent the wheel” to attain new skills or achieve tasks?!

When I was doing my photolithography apprenticeship, I relied upon the more experienced staff members to teach me what I needed to know. Most of my co-workers were generous with their knowledge, but there was one chap who kept his knowledge under lock and key. He was the “Leading Hand” in the company – the top dog below the Foreman and the 2IC.

My interpretation of this “precious” attitude [and I could be WAY off base] was that if he helped me, I might get to know as much – or more than – he, which might threaten his job (as if!). I promised myself that I would never develop an attitude like that man.

Having taught graphic design for a while now, I know there is great personal reward in imparting knowledge. And, let’s face it, if one of my students excels beyond what I have achieved…FABULOUS! It means I did my job well!

This theory seems to work well in teacher/student or co-worker/co-worker situations, but I see the polar-opposite happening in a commercial designer/client and competitor/competitor sense. We joke about “keeping the mystery” around how we do what we do.

Though our clients would like to think we push the “magic button” and “poof-f-f”, the work is done, the obvious reality is that the process is skillful and “mysterious” to outsiders, and we like to keep it that way. Whether the work is – in reality – as involved or complex as it appears, the “mystery” helps us to justify our hourly rate and console us that do-it-yourself desktop publishers will not rule our design world!


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Finalist, Estuary Art Awards 2011
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© Sarah Ritchie 2014

Please do not use copies of my original artwork for profit, however you are welcome to share my artwork images as much as you like!

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