My mama is a writer. A poet. So I’m constantly surrounded by books that aren’t even mine. I’m talking six, full size, double stacked, bookshelves. She organizes them by type: fiction, poetry, travel, western (for my dad), children’s books, etc. So you always know where to find the book you need. And then there is my book collection. It carries the same aesthetic as my mama’s but if you’re looking for one book specifically, you may be searching for quite a while; I just found the book I started last summer. It was on my mama’s fiction shelf.
As disorganized as this beauty is, it’s a good representation of who I am. The shelves are old paintings I made in college and I installed them myself so I guess I was listening when my parents taught me how to find a stud in the wall. It’s made up of mostly female authors with a thick spot of Margaret Atwood and a nod to Tamora Pierce. My childhood heroines claim room on my shelf in the form of Xena: Warrior Princess titles, a Tank Girl coloring book, and a few “how to” roller derby books. These sit happily amid earth bag building, woodworking, human sexuality, and philosophy of human rights. I tried to tell you, it makes no sense. Scattered around the colorful array of spines you can spot porcelain cat figurines, a dragon puppet, a tube of bubbles, and a bouquet of book flowers. More than decoration, these tell the stories of my memories.
I am learning from my mama’s organization, however, because if you turn left, away from my main collection, you’ll find yourself at my drawing table. Here I keep my growing collection of art books. If you look closely, you’ll see a clear expression of my artistic style in the titles of these books: Women, Art, and Society, Impressionists, The Elements of Landscape Oil Painting. You see what I mean?
To wrap up this tour of my reading collection, I present to you my reference books. If you’re a designer like me you just did a little happy dance. These are the books I keep on my desk to offer insight on the history of certain colors, explain to me how I do that series of photoshop adjustments again, and offer me a deep dive into the world of typography (drool). I don’t read these as often as the word “reference” makes it sound, but these couple of books have a way of informing my work just by sitting here on my desk.
From the first time I open my eyes in the morning to the moment I turn out the light, these three shelves inspire my thoughts. They set my mind up to be successful in making conscious choices about who I am and remind me of what is most important in my life. Isn’t it amazing that we can learn so much from them even while their covers conceal the words inside?
Coral Black received her BA in Fine Arts and Fine Arts Management from Western Washington University. She has worked as a graphic designer for InkSpeak and others and most recently completed a custom label for Patron tequila. She works as a freelance designer and artist and is also the kitchen manager for her local YMCA where she cooks 3 meals per day for 75 kids and teachers.
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