Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I just finished designing a postcard and a flyer for an art exhibit. I sometimes forget how much I liked design. Graphic design, like writing haiku, has parameters: size specifics, clarity, a readable message. It was a great pleasure.

I had identical twin second-cousins. Boys. Each boy was always called "Twinnie" by all the relatives, because no one knew who was who. They grew up living next door to my great-grandmother, great aunts and great uncle in the right half of the two-family flat in Detroit. 
When we were all young, the twins showed me how they caught fireflies. Since I was a girl, they said I could just watch them do it. They showed me (no touching) their great armies of green plastic soldiers. They were four years older than me, so we had very little to do with each other.

When I was a junior in high school I wanted to go into advertising. I loved the ads in Seventeen Magazine. I didn’t want to be Picasso or Dali (well, sometimes Dali). It was more the nameless, unsigned illustrations that drew me, or that I wanted to draw.
I was living at my Grandmother’s and I hadn’t seen the twins in years when one came out to the suburbs to visit us. Both the twins had recently graduated from The Art School of the Society of Arts and Crafts where they had studied advertising. One had gotten a job as an art director at a television station in Detroit, the other was an art director in Florida. 
I hung on every word Twinnie said about the art school. Then I showed him an illustration I had just finished. It was a dark-outlined, stylized fashion piece, a girl in a Pendleton plaid skirt. I had copied it exactly from Seventeen. 
He looked it over carefully, then kindly said, “Well, it’s nice, but they never use these dark outlines in an illustration.” I didn’t tell him that it was a copy, thick dark lines and all.

The man across the street from my Grandmother’s was an artist’s rep at one of the big advertising studios. His daughter was my friend. One night I took some of my paintings over to show him. 
That was the night he slapped me with devastating news, “Advertising agency’s don’t hire women artists.”
“Why not.”
Now I swear to you, this is really what he said, “Because women paint everything in pink and baby blue.” Then he added, “ Maybe you should become a teacher”
I started doing everything in black and red. That was in 1961.
Eighteen years later, I became a student at The Center for Creative Studies, formerly The Art School of the Society of Arts and Crafts, where I majored in advertising design. This was after my first marriage, two kids, divorce, and jobs that involved copy editing, keylining and doing layouts.
Once I dated a man who thought that everyone should have a five year plan. He asked me what mine was. By that time I was working as a graphic designer at one of the best studios in Detroit. It was my dream job. 

He should have asked me what my twenty-five year plan was when I was in high school. 
Designing this postcard was fun. The card and flyer are for a group exhibit. Two art groups are coming together, TAG and The Reckless Prophets. There will be paintings, photography and sculpture. I'm a Taggie, so I'll be in the show. As you can see I'm first in the alphabetical list. Hey, there was a reason I changed my name to Arbor. 

Now the hard part: doing the paintings for the show. Painting for me is nothing like haiku.


  1. This design is totally unlike any other art card announces that I have ever seen---simple, clean, very eye catching. Your blog appears on the perfect day---WOMEN'S DAY, reminding us that for centuries and still NOW, women have been held back and not allowed or encouraged to grow and learn and be all they can be! Your path in life proves that a dream can come true---a little bit at a time.

  2. Women's Day? Wow, Ann, I didn't know that. Thanks for seeing the connections in my story.

  3. Great story and design Lynn. Glad you kept at it despite the odds. The stereotype still exists about women, just more covert. Keep on writing.


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