Computer ArtsOpinion

Tell the story of who you are

Immerse yourself in creativity while you have the complete freedom to, says Tom Barnard

I never quite clicked with maths and science – I remember one maths lesson we were learning about ‘remainders’. The headline in my textbook simply read ‘reindeers’. It was never my thing.

One Christmas at Middle School, my classmates and I were set a project. This was to be a fun Yuletide activity, given to us as the autumn term drew to an end and the Christmas holidays approached. The brief? To draw our very own Santa sleigh. We were all given a sheet of A4 paper and one of those synonymous-with-school yellow and black striped HB pencils, and granted the freedom to unleash our creativity.

So when this project was bequeathed unto my fellow pupils and I, well, I couldn’t believe my luck. I grabbed the pencil and transferred my imagination onto the paper. When I’d filled it, I was reasonably happy with my creation, but something told me it wasn’t complete. I felt that the amount Santa was carrying wasn’t quite enough.

I searched for another sheet of paper and drew some more. Once complete, I proceeded to add this new page on top of the first and stuck the two together. Then another page, then another. Soon, Santa was carrying more than just a few presents; his sleigh was struggling with the combined weight of a house and a jumbo jet. It had now reached the end of the day, but my project wasn’t complete. I continued to work on the sleigh far beyond the deadline, and carried on with the project at home. I scavenged for paper and sharpened more pencils: drawing, sticking, drawing, sticking. Before long, I had a sleigh that was carrying shops, cities and even planets. It got to the stage where I had to step back from my hypnotic state and acknowledge the ridiculousness. Yes, I had got carried away, but it had been jolly fun.

I now had a roll of 70 or so sheets of paper under my arm, which was duly and rather impractically presented along with my peers’ creations in the classroom. I remember unrolling the whole thing, letting it disappear out of the door and into the corridor. Of course, it was no work of art, but to me it meant a great deal: it symbolised a desire to create and to design. For me, I suppose it trumped any essay or project I ever completed at Middle School because it was the result of being allowed the freedom to express who I was as a person.

The Santa sleigh went on to live under my bed, gathering dust. A couple of years later, I decided to bring it back into school. It ended up being unravelled in the playground and, after some initial interest, became the object of a boyish sense of fun. Alas, it met its doom as it was playfully tossed across the concrete. Shame, really.

Being able to express yourself creatively is, in my mind, one of the simple joys of life. I’m now a student in the final year of university, approaching the impending end and all the uncertainty that comes with it. I would suggest to others in the same position that we immerse ourselves in creativity while we still have the complete freedom to.

We shouldn’t be afraid of taking risks or experimenting with a style or process we perhaps haven’t tried before. Above all, we should try to have fun with the work we do in our last few months and allow our personalities to really shine through in it – to create work that truly expresses and celebrates who we are as designers and people.

Now is a great opportunity to have a go at something you’ve always wanted to. Maybe there’s that idea you’ve been wanting to try out since starting university, but never found the chance. It’s time to build up a portfolio that tells a story of who we are and what we’re about – full of work that gets noticed.

We’re teetering on the edge of becoming part of an industry that helps make the world that bit brighter: one that focuses on creativity – surely one of the fundamental aspects of what it is to be human. Let’s get excited about it!

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