Some people are born with it, and other make the switch. I did both.
I grew up sharing a drafting table with a Macintosh 512k that was almost as old as me. Unlike the paper, pens, and crayons of my youth my Mac was a sketch pad that never ran out of paper, dry on ink, or short on wax. I used to spend hours drawing houses with my Dad in MacPaint, or trying out all of the different typeface styles in MacWrite. With my Mac I could create something out of nothing, and print it out on the dot matrix printer to hang on our refrigerator. My Mac was magical and it wasn’t until I started school that I began to think of a computer as anything more than my own private art studio.
When I started school I started thinking of computers as a tool to do work. My Dad had replaced the household Mac with a PC and for the first time in my life I was expected to complete tasks outside of the household. Starting with that PC computers became less about experimentation and creativity and more about word-processing and research. Up until High School I never thought of myself as a computer enthusiast, just a practical user who happened to grow up in an age where computers were commonplace.
During High School I rebelled as many teenagers do, and although computers were becoming cool I only stayed loosely associated with them. My real love was drawing the kind of things teenage boys like to draw, violence, science fiction, fantasy, and girls. I considered myself an artist over a nerd, and got more excited over an eccentric aisle than an electronic appliance. It wasn’t until my junior year when I filled a credit with Desktop Publishing that began to think of computers as an art studio once again.
Computers at my High School during the time I attended were going through a transition. Most were Macs, but they were old, and new Gateway PCs were taking over. Because I attended High School during the terror attacks of 9/11 I like many Americans were forced to live with the consequences of fear. My school had hired an ex Navy Seal to walk the halls, and the new PCs were locked down so tightly you weren’t allowed to leave the desktop. The remaining Macs in the Desktop Publishing room were the exception. Not only were they not locked down, but they were filled with creative software for me to explore. Photoshop, Illustrator, PageMaker, and Freehand were like MacPaint but with color, layers, filters, and even more possibilities. I was in love again with the magic, and the lack of restrictions kept me coming back. I could scan in my artwork and touch it up a thousand times without reaching for a second sheet of paper. Computers let me undo and experiment in ways that were never possible with paper, and with all the professional tools I could design documents traditional drafting made tedious. Instead of buying a car, I bought a Mac and design software. It was the smartest decision I made before college because it gave me the tools ahead of the class. If it wasn’t for my highschool Desktop Publishing class and a heightened sense of security I might have never discovered the creative possibilities modern Macs had to offer and might have gone off to college with a Gateway spotted cow box instead.