When I started my freshman year of college, I had little if any idea about what I wanted to do, except to be creative. So when I was accepted to University of the Arts in 2015, I accepted the fact that I was about to embark on an artistic journey that, hopefully, would land me where I wanted to be. While most people dread the general university requirements, I was loving this process of exploration that allowed me to try many new things. Maybe that’s just art school, I’m not sure. But, Discipline Fundamentals was one class in particular that allowed me to try my hand at screenprinting, pattern-making, and camera-less photography all in one. This is where I first began recognizing my professional wants and needs. 

I. The Dark Room

As much as I enjoyed learning something new, I also knew the frustration that came with finding my way. For me, that frustration was inherent to the process of screenprinting. Day one brought about feelings of excitement as I was surrounded by more creatives than I ever had been. However, I mistook this excitement for ease. What I enjoyed quickly turned into a chore as I lacked the required patience and compared my work to others’ wherein I became increasingly unhappy in that collaborative environment. The only part of the print process that remained enjoyable for me was being locked in the dark room alone, exposing my screen under the black light. Still, the work that resulted did not reflect me. 

.

II. Going Camera-less

In contrast, learning camera-less photography was right up my alley. Spending about 90% of my time in the dark room or the computer lab alone, I was content composing and exposing photos for hours on end. Because I enjoyed the process, I was able to throw myself into the work and create things of which I could be proud. I learned that I am detail-oriented, focused on color and crispness of natural images. I didn’t know it at the time, but this would inspire my love for editing. 

.

III. No Pattern for Success

The final section of the course was pattern-making. Having never heard of this concept apart from fashion design, I was intrigued by the process of mapping out objects into pieces that could be deconstructed and put back together again. Starting with the template of a mug, my vision of deconstruction somehow morphed into creating paper cube layouts. I became obsessed with the paper-folding process, creating a cluster of tiny cubes. Yet, when it came time to submit my project, I panicked and created a larger, more obvious piece that overshadowed my tiny cubes. Here, doubt was my downfall. After recognizing my process and love for detail, I betrayed it for social acceptance that really never came of that project. It certainly went to show there is no one way to create and to “trust the process.” 

.

Overall, Discipline Fundamentals has been one of the most valuable courses in my first year and first four years of university. Not only did it teach me the technical skills of screenprinting, camera-less photography, and print-making, it taught me:

  • Exploration is invaluable
  • Don’t compare yourself  or your work to others
  • Trust your process