So, you'd like to know more about how I fell intro graphics design back in 2004? Thank you for taking an interest into my background and as to why I have taken this journey from graphics design to digital art. If you've read my other About Me pages, you will know how I ended up pursuing art as not only a life long beloved hobby and interest, but also in the hope I continue to enjoy having fun painting and to learn new and exciting aspects of art along the way. It's been an incredibly enriching and fulfilling experience so far and has brought me so much joy, even my mistakes are positive as I feel they help me learn to improve.
This background story begins in 2004, I'm working part time when my sons are in school, my husband is still very missed and I'm finding life quite the challenge. I have no family close by and they're all busy with their everyday lives, I'm being encouraged to get a boyfriend which I'm really not ready for by not such great friends who were there for their own personal gain at the time. I guess looking back, I was looking to numb my pain, trying to take the focus away from how lonely, empty and lost I felt, I knew I had my boys but aside that, it really felt like everyone had just left me to it. I had MSN Messenger back then, it really felt like who didn't? It was a nice place to chat on, I had made some friends through the endometriosis society and some of us would have a chat on MSN when we had the time. It was when MSN Spaces came to be in 2005 that my passion for art was reignited and how I became interested in graphic design. I built a very basic MSN Space one day, I was going through a really tough time in my personal life, I had to stop working as I was becoming poorly and at the time, no one was really sure as to the cause of this sudden shift in my health, it wasn't just a mental health worry, physically something just wasn't right. I had no idea about designing sites back then or graphics, it was all so new. I just knew I had to do something to keep me busy and occupied. A friend commented on my MSN Space, she's a friend now but at the time I didn't know her. I realized that if you had a space you could comment on other people's so I called by to view hers and it was incredible. She had music playing on it, a fantastic photo slide show and she wrote a really kick ass blog on there. I was completely taken in by how incredible it looked, so I just asked her how did she do that? She was really sweet, she commented back to me and told me how it was all done and to check out a guy named Dev, he was a young and brilliant designer who had really done a fantastic job on his space and had loads of comments and great advice on how to do this. By following his advice, I took my first steps into the world of HTML and I never looked back. So, one super cool looking MSN Space later and I'm about ready to take on the world at this point! All I needed were some decent graphics, I'd noticed on my travels that some people were using these animations, they were glitter graphics and I so wanted to know how that was done as there were none out there with the name 'Gina'... So frustrating! I managed to find a website called Bigoo and also some fantastic Piczo websites hosting gorgeous glitter graphics, I so wanted to know how to make them. I found a few tutorials here and there, all advising buying either Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop. As the bulk of the tutorials were about Corel Paint Shop Pro I decided to research the software a bit. There really was no alternative, you had to own the software to make these glitter .gif's so I bought Corel Paint Shop Pro. Oh dear. I opened the software, took one look at it, decided this was not for me and I was never going to be able to get the hang of using it, so I closed it and put it down to a bad idea on my part. Instead I opted for some free software called Photofiltre, you could put great effects on your photos, it was ok and I managed to learn how to use it. I kept trying tutorials on how to make glitter graphics but I always ended up shouting at the screen and telling the tutorial writer to speak English! Finally, one day after about 6 months of putting myself through hell on and off, the penny finally dropped and I made my first ever glitter .gif image. I was so proud, over the moon in fact. Turns out those tutorial writers were speaking English after all. Well, there was no stopping me after that, I was downloading glitter blocks galore online, I still have them to this day stored on an external drive. Next thing on the list was learning how to make blends. That took me a long time to grasp, I did get there eventually and this is when digital tagging started really becoming popular and so began the days of my signing up to Bebo.
The rest is history. My Bebo experience was one of great joy and sadness too intertwined. I still have friends from the Bebo days today, but it wasn't without its' bullies. It feels like Twitter has taken its' place in terms of the cyber bullying that occurs today. It felt like on Bebo I could be a little more creative, we could make our own headers and skins and that's when things really began taking off for me. My headers seemed to be well liked, I created an app on there for Bebo users to access my various skins I made, it was a really fun time in that sense. I also met someone on there who changed my life forever. I'll never be the same person again for the experience. It was certainly an experience that changed me as a person. It taught me a lot about life, about their life, I took a break from the internet for quite a while to spend time with them, get to know them and the graphics were put on hold. When I did decide to come back to the digital world of the internet, things had changed a lot. Bebo was finished, no one I originally knew from there was still there. Then I discovered they'd all headed to Facebook. I signed up and found some of them, Facebook didn't support .gif images at the time so there was no point to making them, so I continued to follow as many tutorials as I possibly could and post the results to Facebook. Everything was all new and fun to learn, I then decided in 2011 to try Photoshop. I did struggle with it, but it wasn't as daunting as the time I first opened Corel Paint Shop Pro back in 2005 and closed it thinking bad idea. I gradually picked things up as I went along, it took a long time though. By 2013 I had developed a reasonable knowledge of Photoshop and felt a lot more confident using it. I then started learning Photo Manipulation art. I found a man named Andrei Oprinca and followed some of his tutorials. It was really interesting to see how it was done, but I still wanted to learn so much more. I continued to create in Photoshop, mostly making signature tags and banners for Twitter and Facebook by this time, I kept practicing and trying to improve. My time was limited as my health had improved enough for me to return to work so I was back working part time when after a month of starting I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis. I had literally just gone back to work, the physical symptoms were mostly severe cramping pains in my legs and ankles, fatigue, fever, overall pain and a horrible dry and constant cough that wouldn't go away. I also had a lump in my face beside my ear which had prompted me to go to the doctor and it's how I ended up diagnosed eventually. I continued working for years, just tagging in my free time and I was settled and for the most part, quite content. I also was so lucky to get my little dog too and life had really taken a turn for the better all in all. In 2015, I signed up to become a member on the website Glitter Graphics ( I'm still there now ) I signed up in July 2015 and was made an Official Artist in September 2015. I have some really lovely friends there, I would urge anyone who is a tagger and enjoys making graphics as a hobby to sign up. Everyone is really nice on there and you are part of a friendly community of people who all love tagging and designing. Let your creativity run free on there and get to know some terrific people in the process!
After the death of my mum in 2016, I reacted badly, again this was a delayed reaction and a year after her passing I became very poorly again, pretty much the same thing that happened after my husband died. I was also made redundant from my job due to excess staffing and 2 of us had to leave as we were surplus to requirements. My health also was taking a nose dive. In between all of this and due to the Sarcoidosis, I'd had a mild stroke in 2015, I went on to have more issues with pain overall, my body is riddled with Sarcoidosis Arthritis, I have Sarcoidosis Lipomata everywhere, Neurosarcoidosis, it's also in my eyes, salivary glands, lungs, lymph nodes, it's on my skin, in my parotid glands, it's caused nerve damage and depletion in some organ function. I don't want to go into it too much more as it's not something I can do much about, other than live my life and appreciate every moment. It taught me once more how precious and fragile life is. I've lost so many friends to this disease, I know someday my time will come when Sarcoidosis will take me too, my eyes are affected quite badly by it. I went from needing mild reading glasses back in 2013 to now needing them at a 3.75 strength. So, while my eyes are still able to at least see with strong glasses, I decided I wanted to give something back to the world. I may not be brilliant or have changed the world by being in it, but if I can leave something beautiful behind other than my sons then I think I will have done ok.
In 2017 I bought my first graphics tablet and began sketching daily. I absolutely loved it. Which is how I discovered Art With Flo, which is why I am now here and which is why I plan on enjoying the limited time I have left to create, paint, be an artist to the best of my ability and leave this world with no regrets and hopefully leave something beautiful behind. Thank you for reading.
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