This graphic is an exercise in creating a visual map of formative experiences from childhood to who I am today as a video producer and artist. In doing this exercise, I realized just how many important learning experiences occurred outside of school.
In elementary school, my uncle let me use a video camera to make home movies. In third grade, my two best friends introduced me to comic books and drawing. We’d use my dad’s office photocopier to print our own comic books. In fifth grade, I took a science fiction writing class at “kiddie college” at our local college. And of course there were the numerous music lessons—piano, guitar, violin, even flute.
In college I was in an indie rock band where I was exposed to a thriving community of independent, “DIY” bands, record labels, show promoters, zines, graphic designers, and studios. This inspired me to cofound a website for the independent music industry in 1996, just when the web revolution was taking off. I taught myself graphic and web design, and I designed posters and album art for our band. I soon began designing websites for businesses.
In grad school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I was involved in underground arts groups doing events throughout the city that combined music, fashion, performance, and art. I started documenting this scene with video and started getting into video production.
Today I am an independent video producer and co-founder of the Chicago Art Department (which produces this website).
can’t deny that the good schools I had the fortune to attend weren’t an important part of my education, but when I think of my story, I think about all of the things that happened outside of school. Connected learning really resonates with me. For those involved in a creative industry, there is no formal path. For me, it was essential to pursue my interests outside of school, to connect with a community of friends and peers who shared my interests, and to do things that had relevance to the real world.