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“When did you first fall in love with hip-hop?”

The opening of the movie Brown Sugar begins with a voiceover of the the film’s lead character (a music journalist) asking the question, “When did you first fall in love with hip-hop?”

When I first heard this line, I was quickly reminded of what sparked my passion for graphics. I’m not alone when I get all nostalgic about the origin of my interest in graphic design. Quickly glance at the Speak Up authors’ bios and you will see that most of us have peppered descriptions of who we are by including little vignettes about how we first fell in love with graphic design.

So my easy Friday question plays on that idea. If you have the time, give us your story by answering the question:

When did you first fall in love with graphic design?

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PUBLISHED ON Oct.10.2003 BY joy olivia
graham’s comment is:

graphic design: when the futuristic arrow pierced the 'supermarionation' logo in the opening to the first episode of captain scarlet i saw-prob when i was 3 or 4.

hip-hop; double dutch on the 'tube' u.k. music series, 1981? or 2?

On Oct.10.2003 at 03:19 PM
joy olivia’s comment is:

Graphic Design: Between playing games of DigDug and LoadRunner... circa 1982... I made my first greeting card with PrintShop... for my grandparents using my Dad's fancy Apple IIe and I liked picking out fonts and borders just a little too much for the average half-pint. After that, everyone I knew was receiving "Made by Joy" greeting cards for every holiday and/or mildly special occasion.

Hip-Hop: After hearing my friend Helen's brother blast his catchy tune-filled Run-DMC tapes in 1986 while we were trying to play Barbies. Next came the Beastie Boys' "Fight for Your Right" and I was hooked for life.

On Oct.10.2003 at 03:39 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Without knowing it, it all started for me probably 16 years ago or so. We had at home some sort of PC, very old but very new at the time. And we had this cool application called Newsroom (I think) that had some funny clip-art (much better illustrations than what we have today) and allowed you to create the front page of a newspaper. Very basic, but you could choose from a three column layout to a four column, you could choose how many rows too. I'm sure it was the most arcane piece of software but I used it a lot. I created my own stories to go with each clipart resulting in powerful editorial vignettes by a 10 year old. I would print them out in black and white and color them.

I think that was it for me. And I remembered all this just now as I was thinking about your question Joy. Which is kind of cool for a friday, so thanks.

On Oct.10.2003 at 03:50 PM
sean’s comment is:

It wasn't until first year of college that I really started to understand what graphic design was. The first day of our Layout and Design class our teacher told us that we were surrounded by design everywhere we go. He told us to take a look at how many logos we will come across during the time it takes us to leave the school to get home. I then realized I had the opportunity to create a visual that can be viewed by millions and have got off on this ever since.

On Oct.10.2003 at 03:51 PM
renee’s comment is:


I've been collecting bits of paper and pages from magazines as long as I can remember. I've always had a folder full of odds and ends, clippings from fashion magazines the registration marks from boxes of toothpaste. I still pull the stuff out sometimes for inspiration. I love the color selection and the placement of type. I think there is beauty in everything, if you crop it tight enough.

Hip Hop:

My dad had/has a record that has a song that starts out..."I'm like Shakespeare, I'm a pioneer, cuz I made rap somethin' people wanted to hear..." My dad used to sing the whole thing at the dinner table, and My sisters and I all fell in love.

On Oct.10.2003 at 04:15 PM
joy olivia’s comment is:

Aaaah, "Step Off" by the Furious Five -- any rap that references Chaka Khan is fine by me.

On Oct.10.2003 at 04:26 PM
Kevin Byrd’s comment is:

Etch-A-Sketch Animator.

(4th Grade)

On Oct.10.2003 at 04:35 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Don't push me cause I'm close to the edge, I'm trying not to lose my head.

What was year was that? 1980?


What a great question, Joy. For any day of the week.

On Oct.10.2003 at 04:37 PM
tim’s comment is:

I used to sit with tracing paper and trace logos or type faces over and over when I was younger. I didn't understand what design was until I grew older.

It’s ironic that hip-hop is included in the title of this post. I became infatuated with Public Enemy when I was about 13 or so. This infatuation was propelled by my first (and still working) CD player, which forced me to buy new music. I would listen to P.E. after school everyday, for the next couple of years. During this phase, my industrial tech teacher assigned us a screen-printing project. It was at this time that I figured out what Graphic Design really was, and printed some bitchin' P.E. logos for me to hand out to my friends.

On Oct.10.2003 at 04:53 PM
Isiah’s comment is:

Hypercard, paint, and Clarisworks still make the best valentines. All done on my SE30...(still in use by my mom for kindergarten newsletters.) ( 3rd grade-ish )

On Oct.10.2003 at 07:16 PM
dave howell’s comment is:

I was in fifth grade when we had to do a report on a planet. I was given Jupiter. For the report, I did it in the form of a newspaper from the people of Jupiter. Wrote all the copy, did the layout and used some truely awesome clip art that i had found. It had a news and sports sections, weather�the works. The lead story was on how the people of Jupiter had landed on eath and found an ancient civilization.

My teacher made copies of it and gave it to all the other teachers at my school. I beamed with pride for two weeks.

That's when this affair all started for me.

On Oct.10.2003 at 07:45 PM
Rick Moore’s comment is:

Checking out the layouts in Transworld Skateboarding magazine back in the late eighties, and designing logos all over my grip tape. (I only realized in the mid- nineties that those same layouts were done by a then fledgling David Carson.) I also drew my own car designs, complete with tech spec layouts and marker renderings.

I am still surprised when I go back and look in my stupid graduation "memory book" that my mom bought me that I answered the question, "What do you want to be doing in five years?" with the words "graphic designer". I didn't think I even knew what that term was at that point in my life!

Hip-hop: NWA, Too Short, Easy-E (I was _bad_ back in those days.)

On Oct.10.2003 at 11:01 PM
pk’s comment is:

i was thirteen. nick rhodes was god. the marketing campaign for duran duran's "seven and the ragged tiger" (by malcolm garrett, assorted images) made everything about the marriage of music, imagry, and the marketing of hype make sense.

On Oct.10.2003 at 11:06 PM
Geoffrey’s comment is:

Design: Looking at my dad's old corporate logo books. (age 7 or so)

Hip Hop Love: De La Soul - Three Feet High & Rising.

On Oct.11.2003 at 12:09 AM
Lea’s comment is:

It was a strange road towards graphic design. Not unlike this journey. I am one of those people who likes to do almost anything arts related -- draw/illustrate, write, sing, act. I was also interested in computers at a very young age. However, I thought I was going to pursue a career in animation at first, before I went to school and realised how tedious and boring (to me) it was. Then I thought I was going to be an illustrator or maybe even a comic book type of person (since in my teens, and to this day, I participate in this certain art community where several people have pursued their dreams and are now very respected comic book artists or up-and-coming people. ahem, pick up the Streetfigher #1 comic for an example)

And of course, I fiddled around with making web pages, playing with Photoshop. But never taking it seriously, or knew exactly what I was doing.

But I remember one particular moment, still very clear in my mind. I was in a car, and I admired one of the billboards that we had passed. I remember commenting that it was pretty cool and I wondered what type of people did that kind of work.

Now I know. School was pretty much the eye-opener for me. I figured out what I was good at, and understood why I did what I did. The internet was a major catalyst in all my decision making for this career path.

If it wasn't for the internet, I might have become a journalist or other type of writer, maybe.

On Oct.11.2003 at 05:29 AM
Lea’s comment is:

As for Hip Hop... loved it since the ol' 90s-era TLC days... Yessir!

On Oct.11.2003 at 05:31 AM
surts’s comment is:

I think it started back in grade four when I'd use the airwalk typeface among others when it was my turn to write on the chalk board—naturally, the teacher tried to kill my creativity by telling me that I should stop it and write "normally". Thankfully I didn't listen to her...

I think I fluked into college, I didn't know much about art and certainly nothing about design (just the graphic arts). All I wanted to do was create cool graphics for shirts. Once I got my taste for design in second year, I found my religion...

As for hip hop, A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Digable Planets, Gang Starr we're all in rotation (and still are), though it took a couple years after their releases for me to find them. Eventually artists like Guru warmed me up to others like Massive Attack—go figure.

On Oct.11.2003 at 09:35 AM
vibranium’s comment is:

stumbled upon graphic design. originally was going to be a navy fighter pilot...i flunked out of my first university experience. I entered College at 16. Away from a sheltered home for the first time. had WAY too much fun, and realized I never wanted to be a pilot.

slowly I made up my flunked classes at the small local Junior College. Moved to Orlando to work at Nickelodeon studios. My parents at the time were subsidising me 'finding myself' - but soon grew tired of dishing out that much cash. So, move home or take classes!! I was basically at that point thinking...i need a trade, a skill that's marketable.

So I chose computer programming. BUT i incorrectly filled out my registrtion form and ended up in a Graphic Communication course. I still remember the moment. Sitting in a classroom, feeling like a dork because there were no computers in the classroom, knowing i filled out the form wrong, but too embarrassed to get up. THEN the teacher came in a started talking about Design, graphics, printing - something i can safely say i had NO idea about, it washed over me like it does most people. I fell in love, literally.

It's been love ever since.

On Oct.11.2003 at 09:42 AM
sean’s comment is:


When I first learned to use the xerox machine. Cut, paste and copy—voila!

Inspirational music CD:

Pavement "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain"

On Oct.11.2003 at 10:19 AM
J’s comment is:

I used to sit with tracing paper and trace logos or type faces over and over when I was younger. I didn't understand what design was until I grew older.

same here. the only difference is that i traced japanese big robot packaging and memorized electronics brand logos like sony, hitachi since i was 4, while doing crazy stuff with Lego. i believe an affinity with the visual language can start at an even earlier age.

it's amazing when you try to remember all the images in the past that fueled your passion. my mind is my galactic scrapbook.

On Oct.11.2003 at 12:10 PM
Todd W.’s comment is:

I'd always been interested in art, took art lessons as a kid, drew comic book stuff while I sat in the back of class, etc., but I don't think I really even knew what graphic design was until I got out of college. I'd dabbled in desktop publishing and got a job as a typesetter in a print shop when I graduated. Looking at all the drek that was going through that place made me want to learn how to make it better. I'm still an amateur, but that 6 months in the print shop made me fall in love with graphic design.

On Oct.11.2003 at 12:55 PM
Garrick Van Buren’s comment is:

I was sucked in by the amazingly cool skateboard graphics, magazine ads, and company logos of the late 80s.

On Oct.11.2003 at 02:43 PM
Spcat’s comment is:

INTRO TO GRAPHICS: as a little kid i loved drawing, it was imperative to me growing up. i also loved architecture. when i was 9 i started to design my own house, layout of rooms, elavations, and even designed the furniture specifically for the rooms. once i hit high school i discovered architecture was a little too cut and dry. i took my first computer graphics class (it was called computer graphics back in '97) and i was amazed by what you could do with a scanner, a computer and a printer. that set me on my way. thanks

On Oct.11.2003 at 11:22 PM
graham’s comment is:

pk: remember arcadia?

On Oct.12.2003 at 03:08 AM
Michael Bierut’s comment is:

My love affair with graphic design goes back so far I can barely remember: SU regulars will remember my age-eight passion for the Clark forklift truck logo.

As for hip-hop (my real passion), on my first day in New York nearly 25 years ago, I heard "The Breaks" by Kurtis Blow. That started a binge that went on for about five years. I have a foot-and-a-half of vintage Sugarhill and Enjoy! 12-inches in my unfinished suburban basement to prove it. (My favorite is "That's the Joint" by the Funk Four Plus One. Great sample of "To Be Real" by Cheryl Lynn...I retired with the rise of Afrika Bambataa. Couldn't get behind all the barking.)

On Oct.12.2003 at 02:41 PM
Michael B.’s comment is:

That's "Funky Four Plus One," hop-hop fans, sorry about that.

On Oct.12.2003 at 02:48 PM
Javier’s comment is:

I loved to draw letters - when I was 12 I used to make posters for everything, taping together sheets of paper to make them bigger.

The foreign language department at my middle school had a contest - students were asked to make posters promoting foreign countries were the languages being taught were spoken. I made one for Mexico and one for France with cut-out shapes made out of colored paper - my first icons. I cut out a killer Eiffel tower. The prize went to some horribly designed poster that had lots of information about the population or something or other. I still think i should have won.

On Oct.12.2003 at 03:44 PM
vibranium’s comment is:

Hated Hip-Hop growing up in NYC in the 70s/80s - mostly cuz all the kids who were into it beat me up and took my Pumas. Like all the time.

JHS 10 in Astoria, ugh! what a nightmare!

Now...first rap song I fell in love with? Sure Shot - '94.

On Oct.12.2003 at 03:53 PM
pk’s comment is:

remember arcadia?

i still own all of the artwork from the 12" covers and video design.

the music was reprehensible, even by duran duran's low standards, but the completeness of the design was staggering: everything from custom typography to embedded/encoded language to wardrobe design to makeup styling to sets to choreography. scintillating.

On Oct.12.2003 at 07:18 PM
starlight’s comment is:

I was in 7th grade. It was on one of the ancient Powermacs, the great amazing machines that evolved from the Apple II - and I was supposed to do a research report on horses or something. And instead of doing the typical Microsoft Works typed out paper, I laid it out in one of the earlier versions of Pagemaker. I didn't really have a clue what I was doing, but as I created it, I realized that there was more to conveying information besides just typing out the facts. I even used pixelated photos from the internet that I just learned how to use and I think it even had a watermark in the background of a running horse. I garnered an A, that's for sure. I don't know if it was at that MOMENT that I fell in love with design, but it is the moment in which design became a part of me. It would be a few more years before I would realize my passion and destiny....

On Oct.13.2003 at 12:52 AM
graham’s comment is:

pk-i pretty much copied (adapted? a 'homage'?) the arcadia cover while i was at school (before college) and went to visit assorted images. i was all 'what a coincidence-what a similarity-i had no idea' and i'm sure i believed that they believed me. they told me to go to college. so i did.

actually, i had a similar thing to you (with the duran stuff) with simple minds 'new gold dream' cover.

On Oct.13.2003 at 03:03 AM
Kingsley’s comment is:

I think I first tell in love with graphic design after picking up a copy of Ray Gun magazine under the art direction of David Carson. The magazine had a raw approach to publication design which was so out of ordinary for me at the time. After that experience, I wanted to know more and continued to explore design. Then a few years later I attended Pratt Institute to study graphic design formally.

And I've still got the love.

On Oct.13.2003 at 09:02 AM
jonsel’s comment is:

I first got my hands on a Mac Plus and a massive laserwriter in '87 courtesy of my high school newspaper. Oh, the world that opened up to me when I realized I could enlarge the font size and make my papers seem longer. My first attempt at graphic manipulation, I guess. But I didn't know this was graphic design. It wasn't until I hit Portfolio Center that I truly opened up to the visual world and found my calling.

I find it fascinating that almost everyone has an "I love hip-hop" portion to this as well. I can't say I do love hip-hop, but I did see Public Enemy open for U2 and they were astounding. Very foreign for my classic rock tastes but captivating live.

On Oct.13.2003 at 09:26 AM
Jason’s comment is:

I remember going with my dad to the computer store and seeing my first Mac (circa 1985), I was 10 years old. I remember seeing the Apple logo and just feeling excited.

My mom was a graphic designer, so I grew up with X-acto's and spray mount. I remember going to the art store and buying type, and manually setting my own christmas cards and stuff. I guess it's just always been a part of me.

Hip Hop: My first memory is of RunDMC. I first fell in love w/ Public Enemy (suburban white kid, go figure). Then it was Beastie Boys, etc. Outkast is spinnin' at the moment...

On Oct.13.2003 at 10:58 AM
kevin steele’s comment is:

I think I was born this way. I was always drawing. As a teenager in the late 70s I was surrounded by album covers (mom's record collection) and other hip pop culture (as opposed to hip hop culture) artifacts that my mom and her younger friends brouight into my sphere reference. I wanted to draw marvel comics, inspired by the extremely graphic work of people like Jim Steranko. Then in high school I discovered the graphic arts lab and the stat camera...

On Oct.14.2003 at 09:03 AM
Kevin Lo’s comment is:

Yes, comic books. simple as that.

On Oct.14.2003 at 10:00 AM
Sarah B.’s comment is:

Ok, so it isnt Friday anymore - but I wanted to blab!

I think I was knew that I wanted to do some with design - but never knew what exactly it was called.

In HS I took journalism and fell in love with the deadlines - but I wasnt one whom liked to pry into others lives. I decided to go to college for it anyways.

When at my community college I took Mass MEdia/Communication Arts, since the journalism classes were a part of that curriculum. I ended up bringing the "forgotten" newspaper once again to its feet (with a staff of - oh, 3 people) and I did most of the layout (very embarrissing now that I look at it). And I fell in love. I wasnt sure why I loved to put things here and there, and try to create a feeling/relay a message - but I did.

That led me to Graphic Design for my BFA - and I have zoomed in and out of all design related things since. I love to do everything within this field from making a book to a flash demo. From printing a graphic silkscreen to reading and commenting on design theory and history - I love it all!!!!

So I guess, design found me - and told me what to call it. (But dont ask me to explain it)

On Oct.14.2003 at 11:08 AM
Mike H’s comment is:

I remember always drawing as a kid, but the time that really sticks in my mind was as a 7 year old being the only kid in my class to write their stories in a custom bubble font...

Hip-hop would have to be De La Soul, 3 Feet High And Rising (although I have to admit being a late starter in the appreciation of hip-hop)

On Oct.14.2003 at 06:13 PM
Sian’s comment is:

Only recently really, well three years or more. I appreciated art and design whilst at School but it was the web that really sparked my imagination. My love has come from me attempting to create my own graphic designs (very badly I may add) and I soon came to realise and appreciate others work.

Hip Hop: Gotta be RunDMC, LLCoolJ, Queen Latifah, NWA, De la Soul, Soul II Soul and Tribe called Quest in no particular order. Then I discovered MTV Base and it just exploded from there.

On Oct.15.2003 at 03:26 PM
Josh ’s comment is:

I had been always obsessed about art. I would draw all my baseball cards and mostly focused how real I could make them.

To be honest I seem to have to forgotten most of my early years. Yet when I fell in love with the graphic design was (don't kill me) my senior year in high school. I had just learned Pagemaker and was the layout guy for the school newspaper. I thought to myself I can write, compose information, take photographs and do things like i see in magazine.

Thus my zine career was born. I did them for aggressive inline skating and snow skating (Sled Dogs anyone?). I started learning Photoshop, Quark and Illustrator and it all came together. The last zine I did we maybe did 6 issues, but we went all out to make it a magazine. Subscriptions to well over 100 people(for a zine that's good), magazine ads(which we usually designed), and interviews with musicians. I knew then that I should be a real graphic designer.

I can't say the rest is history, because my history is still being carved out.

On Oct.15.2003 at 06:31 PM
Peter’s comment is:

I fell in love with grafik design when I first saw the work of Hillman Curtis back in 1998.

On Oct.21.2003 at 07:33 AM
Nevi’s comment is:

I guess the moment I started to talk and read I became engulfed in the idea of communications of all kinds. I have always had something to say and have been expressing what I have to say visually all of my life.

It was not until I got into high school that I fell in love with the fact that there was a growing profession called graphic design and that I could go to school for this and maybe even one day someone would pay me for it.

I still am currently in school for it, and am learning even more about the vast, endless, incredible world of Graphic Communication.

On Oct.23.2003 at 05:14 PM
hollie thompson’s comment is:

I first fell in love with hiphop was when I heard Gin N Juice by Snoopy Dog. When I was 11 years old. Now im 17 years old I listen to it all the time. I love to dance to it.

On Nov.30.2004 at 03:25 PM
Henrik Tandberg’s comment is:

Graphic design: The Rob Roskopp screaming hand logo on my brothers board... I think

Hip Hop: Kool Keith's weird "Dr. Octagon" album

On Nov.30.2004 at 05:37 PM
jo’s comment is:

When I was surfing the nascent internet at age 10... (b. 1982).

On Dec.01.2004 at 10:40 AM
karen’s comment is:

i can remember being 3 or 4, riding around in the shopping cart in the grocery store (on the bottom rack, of course) & just being fascinated with all of the beautiful packaging... that stuff still fascinates me to this day.

On Dec.01.2004 at 02:46 PM