That’s how I became a graphic genius in MS Paint and started writing short stories in WordPad, which magically seemed to get longer as I increased the font size. I found images and text endlessly fascinating, and they kept me entranced for hours. Not much later, I made the decision to become a graphic designer.
No sooner said than done
After sleepwalking through a degree, I earned the right to embellish my CV with a Master’s in Graphic Design. Six months later, I became a graphic designer at a communications agency in Halle, which involved a two-hour daily commute. To spend my time on the train more usefully, I became an avid reader. I was particularly drawn to nineteenth and early twentieth-century novels: dreamy tales with flamboyant phrases and words dripping like candlewax. Gradually, my passion for language, which had almost vanished into the haze, was reignited. Although my stories and fantasies have long since disappeared into the local recycling centre along with the now antique PC, my love for language was still deeply rooted in my right hemisphere.
The pandemic delivered a P45 into my hands. Out of the blue, I found myself clutching the envelope on the office doorstep with the world at my feet. I could have struck while the iron was hot and continued to churn out logos, brochures, and websites. But the call of language was strong, and my fingers were itching to take up a pen again. Looking back, that P45 was the push that I needed to convert my passion for language into words.
The call of the Angels
That night, I was visited by angels with fluttering, ink-blue robes. “Thou shalt become a copywriter”, one whispered in my ear. And the other one, who had a voice like a summer breeze, said: “Thou shalt seek out the joyful fellowship of the Blue Lines and win their approval with a flaming pen. The ink shalt flow and thou shalt be reborn.” And yup, that’s exactly how it went. More or less.
In fact, there are many similarities between design and language. You take the client’s house style as your starting point, and for every new creation, you aim for a result that’s both easy to read and inspiring. Except that, as a graphic designer, you soon come up against limitations, such as images that you had in mind not being available, your dream design proving technically unworkable, and so on. By contrast, what attracts me to writing is the boundlessness and flexibility of language. A pencil and a sheet of paper are all you need to embark upon a voyage of discovery.
Language is a treasure trove that provides an endless source of words. As a brand-new copywriter, I go headfirst into every new writing assignment to emerge with those linguistic gems that make a text inspiring and rich. And sometimes, very occasionally, I imagine I’m that child again, giving free rein to their imagination at the yellowing keyboard of that colossal Pentium II computer.