you know. there have been instances where people say, “so do you do interior design? or fashion”, whenever i tell them i’m a designer.
the world is so broad, that the most commonly known field of designers are interior design and or, fashion.
honestly though, i don’t blame them. the world is, indeed, broad. i’ve got a friend who used to work in the supermarket. when i asked him what he worked there as, i was imagining him at the counter, checking out items or replacing old stocks with new ones on those really high ladders. turns out he used to be a junior-designer for the supermarket, and his main task was to draw out all those ‘RM7.90’ and ‘promosi! harga murah!’ signs. when i say draw out, i really meant, drawing those alphabets out.
he told me they used those big marker pens, and he practically uses his whole arms to draw the numbers out (there’s even a format for it!). seeing how he’d demonstrated it to me, it wasn’t an easy task for just anyone, really- and that’s what makes things interesting.
he told me he worked at a supermarket, and the image i had in my head turned 180 degrees after he told me his story. to top it off, he said the pay wasn’t even, that, l i t t l e.
this brings back to a memory i had of my 18-year-old self, while i was pursuing my foundation in design. it was still my first semester, and i was so eager to learn everything i could about design, and i’d felt fresh about my course, as ever.
one evening though, a family friend passed by our house on her way to the night market. it’s been years since we actually caught up with each other (my mother and her, that is) and that was when she’d told me about her child pursuing something that’s pretty much, ‘the job‘ that all of us have been drilled to pick out from ‘the list of the jobs‘ (if you get what i mean, eg: doctor, lawyer, engineer, architect, businessmen). when she asked my mother what i would be doing my whole life, my mother said i’d be doing something in the line of design.
“fashion? ke interior? not architecture?”
i looked away, and my mother just smiled. “she’s only doing her foundation now, she’s very much leaning towards interior architecture (bonus points for mama because at that point, yes, i was all about interior architecture and i had tonnes of books about interior architecture, which i’d already finished- all of them) but i think she’ll be doing either graphic or multimedia design. she’s very good in drawing. she can look at you for a good five minutes and draw your face, looking exactly like you”.
our family friend had a ‘oh? wow now, really?‘ face on, and went on to ask my mother, “oh i see, i don’t know what graphic or multimedia design is, but i heard the art punya field, quite difficult to get a good paying job lah. why didn’t you push her to take up law? you and Tun got lots of books to pass down to your children i’m sure?”
at this point i let out a soft chuckle, my shoulders raising in amusement to such a question.
“i signed up for foundation in law, before i decided to change courses. i don’t want to let my drawing skills go to waste. i already know i can draw, so why not sharpen my artistic side instead of having to nurture my reading, referencing and application skills? not that i don’t like law, but i think i’d rather work on something i’m natural in,” i abruptly explained.
my mother kept her smile on, and said, “yeah. i wouldn’t want to force her to do something she isn’t naturally interested in, all her life,” and we all eventually ‘laughed it off‘ just to keep things neutral.
basically, i never knew being a designer or getting involved in the creative field means ‘you’re not gonna live a good life’, to some. i never thought being something other than the usuals, would mean i’d never get to live a stable life.
this is actually a topic that should be widely discussed amongst malaysians because most parents seem to think that their children are useless, the moment they see their child only intersted in drawing something very unique on paper.
heck i used to have a drawing paper of mine torn back during my primary 4 mathematics class just because i wasn’t paying attention, because i was ‘drawing’, when i’ve infact, finished my classwork.
“how can you be successful if you keep drawing in my class? i’m teaching you numbers, and you need numbers for a good career, not this foolish kartun kartun and all”, my maths teacher said (in malay of course, and it would’ve sounded too kasar if i’d actually quoted what he actually said in malay). basically it was also something along the lines of, “nak jadi doktor, engineer, kena pandai nombor. nak jadi apa apa pun, kena pandai nombor, bukan lukis kartun kartun bukan bukan je memanjang. besar nanti takleh keje doktor, engineer ke cikgu macam saya ke, takleh nak hidup tau kalau dok melukis je macam ni“.
eh hello. you try tell that to the art teacher that you’ve been sitting right beside, the whole time you’ve been working there, yea?
so it’s sad.
it’s sad that we always overlook the tiniest things that matter, in terms of keeping the circle of life actually going in circles, and not suddenly having the circle cut off. just as how it’s important to have doctors, lawyers and whatnot, without designers, who is to create your school logo? who’s to make those signages you see by the road? who’s to make those banners and signboards for your company?
jobs exist for a reason, and a wide-spread field filled with various jobs and positions, exists for the very reason that the field is existing for.
sad, how we always tend to overlook the tiniest things, that matter.