Saturday, December 17, 2011

Birth of Venus

Splash screens. Every time you open a program, work on a file, or check an image you see them...probably take them for granted, right? Christmas, 1988 -- I was a new employee in the graphics department at the university where I work. A project had come in -- illustrations for a book chapter, and I somehow got picked to work on it. I think I was chosen mainly because most people were on vacation, but nonetheless it was my first big project. And long about the same time this new program was installed on our Macs -- Adobe Illustrator '88. Now back then, when Mac Draw and Mac Write were considered cutting edge, this new Illustrator program was a different beast -- vector-based drawing, setting type, all WYSIWYG. Pretty advanced stuff. So for about a week or two, I learned Illustrator and worked on this project. I bought a book about the program, and learned it from the ground up. Back then, before Adobe's Creative Suite and its monochromatic color coding of applications, there was this splash screen when Illustrator booted up based on Botticelli's Birth of Venus painting. I found an interesting history of the program and the splash screen here.

Fast forward 23 years, and Illustrator is still the program that I use every day for logos, medical illustrations, graphics to accompany manuscripts, and graphic design projects. Illustrator has become the swiss army knife of graphics programs and is usually the resting place for most things I work on. It's like an island in the tumultuous sea of Powerpoint graphics and Excel charts and graphs. If I can somehow get a graphic into Illustrator, there is hope. I never really thought about the splash screen change as Adobe transitioned to Creative Suite and dropped the Birth of Venus image in the early 2000s.

I took the photo above at the Renaissance Festival in late October. What initially drew me to the shot was the parasol and the radiating lines. But the more I looked at it, I realized how similar it was to the old Illustrator Birth of Venus splash screen -- the facial expression, hair, slight tilt of the head ... all harkening back to the time of a start of a career and the comforting thought that things are gonna be ok when Illustrator opens.


  1. This is one of the few shots we took that day with light on a stick. I really like the colors and lines of the parasol,coupled with her great facial features. Nice job.


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