Wherever the Line Leads

I was a happy-go-lucky kid. Happy, because I owned a set of markers. Lucky, because my parents encouraged me to use them.

Markers were not an easy thing to come by then. They were expensive and ran out of ink the minute you took them out of the package.  And they had a limited palette of colors, most of them ugly.

I didn’t see a problem with that. Those “ugly” colors were being used by Peter Max and other illustrators of the 1960s: oranges, aquas, olives and bright screaming pinks. I loved them all.

By the age of 10, I was keeping sketchbooks of my…ahem, commercial art. I designed type fonts, wrote direct response advertising, and did continuous line drawings with no plan in place…just to see where the line would take me.

When I was in the tenth grade, I did an ad series for a private telephone company. What was weird about that was that there was only one telephone company at the time. It would be seven more years before divestiture would create an open market for the industry.

I’m not saying I was visionary. But I think sometimes my markers were. More than once, they took me to places I didn’t know I was going.

This year, they took me deep into the city where I’ve lived more than half of my life. There I found some of the richest backdrops a visual storyteller could ever ask for. And, although the computer had replaced my markers many years before, the feeling was still the same. There I was, a happy-go-lucky kid, following the line to see where it would lead.