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What Was Your First Creative Gig?

I was sitting in English class, trying to focus on the assignment and not on the rose and rifle tattoo of the girl in front of me, when I was called to the office. Everyone looked at me expecting to see a grimace or an expression of fear but I had an idea of what this was all about. My art teacher had asked me earlier to help the school with a project, and this was the beginning. Instead of hiring an actual graphic designer, who they would have to pay, the school decided to have me, a student, design and reproduce a brand new school mascot on a huge wall in the hallway and then in the gymnasium. No pressure. It’s just going to be the school mascot for the next 100 years.

The current mascot, Henry the Hornet, was a classic 1950’s bumble bee character with skinny legs, skinny arms, and boxing gloves. Not too inspirational. I decided to give Henry a few steroids and a new shape and- viola! It was done. I consulted my uncle’s bodybuilding magazines for inspiration as well as a few old comics of my dad’s I had laying around. The new mascot was a ripped, hulking man/hornet, with giant biceps and a tornado abdomen. The school loved it and I was asked to then paint it on the walls and to help them turn the design into tee shirts and other paraphernalia to sell at the concession stand during football games. I never played football, in case you couldn’t guess.

For my creative energy, I was paid nothing, but after much hullabaloo, was allowed to sign my name to the wall. This was not my first creative gig but it was my last non-paying creative gig. The positive outcome for me was the learning experience, and the fact that it was the first time in the state’s history that a student branded a school by designing a new mascot. I wish I could say the chicks dug me after that, but…not so much.