I haven’t had a glamorous career by any stretch of the imagination. So far, it has been limited to the in-house design world and a select set of clients I’ve worked for as an independent designer. However, it has been a fast and fun 12 years that all started with me giving up one of my dreams.
When I was little, if someone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer was inevitably “fireman” or “policeman”. That is, until I discovered comic books around age 9. It was love at first sight: cool images of superheroes beating the bad guy. I made my own homemade comics for years, and after high school I attended the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon & Graphic Art for a short time.
Alas, it just wasn’t meant to be. I was soon back home and felt very lost. I had spent most of my life up to that point obsessed with comics and how to draw them. I felt as if I’d completely failed. But I did have to keep moving forward; like my dad, I can’t seem to sit still for too long. So I planned to continue my education locally.
I decided to focus on graphic design at a community college whose Visual Communication program was in high regard. It wasn’t until I was in the program that I really saw the connection between comics and design. Storytelling, moving the viewer’s eye across the page, composition, layout, type… All the elements that made the comics of my youth so cool also worked in graphic design to make other stuff cool too! I knew at this point I had found my new passion. I could create compelling, cool “stuff” that extended beyond the realm of fantasy heroes and had more practical applications.
My biggest failure has led to my design career that now spans just over a decade. It’s hard to believe so much time has passed. It truly does fly when you are having fun! I still get that “Christmas morning” feeling when a finished project arrives and I get to unbox it and see the goodies inside.
Most of the time I still feel like that fresh-faced kid who just graduated and was ready to take on the world, especially when a new challenge presents itself. While I still have the same basic approach and use the same basic tools to solve these new problems, I think the best tool in my arsenal is my childlike wonder and my hard-earned experience so that I can offer fresh, appropriate solutions to my clients.
Nicholas J. Nawroth is a graphic designer and illustrator with 12 years of industry experience. He specializes in collateral materials, especially hi-end wine, microbrewery beers, and gourmet foods. He earned his design expertise by building an in-house graphic design department from the ground up for a local upscale grocery store chain. A serious Netflix addict, he spends many a weekend watching movies. He also spends a fair amount of time thinking about and eating cookies. You can see his work here www.nicholasjnawroth.com