Where the Designing Started

In Design, Life by LauraLeave a Comment

There is one very clear memory from my childhood that always proves to remind me that I’m on the right path: I was a nerd for a desktop publishing software as a kid.

Very specifically – the Disney 101 Dalmatians Print Studio from the HP Home Project Kit circa 1997. (Don’t even ask how much time I had to spend hunting for this thing. I originally thought it was a cereal box prize. Oops!)

I guess I can credit or blame my mom.

I was 10. She had bought a new printer – obviously, an HP – and the Disney Print Studio software was included in the box as a freebie. Whether this is true or not remains to be discovered. For some reason, I have always believed we got this for free.

Mom, again, was the one who installed it for me on the massive desktop computer that sat in the corner of my bedroom-turned-family-office. Like I said, this is all to her credit…or blame.

I had to have spent a lifetime with my face buried in the depths of Dalmatian clipart making every possible thing. I’d pick patterned backgrounds and add in crazy fonts. When in doubt, I’d use every color in the extremely bold and basic palette – ensuring I had the best the software had to offer on every page.

The general rule of the house was to not waste the printer ink. But, let’s get real, I printed every single page flooded with color. The wet, soggy sheets of paper would run off the inkjet and I’d pinch the corner to transfer it to the table for drying. I’m almost certain my parents regretted every minute of having allowed such madness to ensue.

I even remember that my font of choice was a quirky sans called Grilled Cheese. My heart aches that I have never, ever been able to find it again.

Even today, watching this amazing YouTube clip, I wish I could mess around with the library of graphics and patterns one more time. While the completely outlandish design of it all is laughable (and obviously perfect for kids) – I think the truly incredible lesson is that somewhere in the mid-90s, a free CD-ROM made publishing so easy, a 10-year-old could figure it out.

Not only did I do just that – figure it out – but I had fun and loved it in the process. That joy and excitement continue today. While the software I use now may be dramatically more complex and significantly less colorful, I still feel that gut full of adventure every time we kick off a new project.