I’ve always loved stories.

Growing up in Singapore, home-schooled by my missionary parents, I learned to read early and read often.

I’ve always been visual.

I watched every minute of TV, every movie and played every computer game my parents would allow. (They tried to rein me in, tried to keep me reading, I didn’t make it easy on them, bless them.)

Education wasn’t too hard for me.

I pick up concepts quickly; I remember facts and logic always fell into place. I’m not so good with names and dates, but always tested well. Spiritual gift, maybe, should thank my mother’s excellent educational foundation, perhaps, blessing certainly.

So in high school I got myself into a college-level engineering program. I really loved… the people there. Some of the best years of my life, for some reason! And I was good at it: graduated second in my class. Turns out there’s a word for that: salutatorian. Yeah, I wouldn’t have known it either. (Curse you, William McClendon) Did enough math in high school that I never had to take another math class again. And (shame on me) I didn’t.

But I didn’t… enjoy engineering.

So I went to college for art!

Computer graphics: just as spacial, just as geometric, none of that ‘math’ nonsense and nothing collapses on innocent people if I’m goofing off at the computer.

Computer… animation. Do some story telling, why not, in the process. Wasn’t so good at it, not the ‘art’ stuff. Oh the computer was no problem, and I didn’t lack for ideas… just didn’t have that endless drive to create. Too content to view, to read, to play.

I had no trouble graduating (despite World of Warcraft’s best efforts), what I did not have was a portfolio. Ended up… drifting awhile. Unsure.

Cousin invited me to stay with him. Figured there’d be more for me in Chicago than in Richmond, Virginia. No one needs someone with computer skills who thinks spatially to relive the Civil War.

Then my uncle asks me, out of the blue, I do ‘computer things’, right? Well, sure. Need something?

Turns out his company, where my cousin works, a small investment firm, had a graphic designer who was out sick for a long while. Needed someone to help, just once a month, get their performance reporting formatted and out the door to investors and potential clients. I knew some, but not all of the software, and learned the rest on the job. Started part-time as a consultant and was hired, maybe a year later for a full-time position.

You’ll just have to forgive a bit of rambling: I too-easily see the interconnections in things to not start from the beginning. But here, then, is what I do:

Data, you see, is not information. Information is not knowledge. After knowledge comes understanding and wisdom, but those are quite beyond my power. What I do is take data and wrap it in context and present it such that it’s easy to read. Sounds simple, but has been very challenging for me. I’ve learned Adobe InDesign like the back of my hand, I’ve dabbled in typography, and sampled branding. I taught myself XML (convincing the computer that this number, right here, is the December_Return_2009 in all it’s glory) and Excel.

I love my job. I learn new things constantly, no two projects are the same and I feel genuinely helpful.

More importantly: my uncle runs a Christian business. There are prayer meetings every week and everyone is a joy to work with.

It’s not what I hoped to do. It’s not even what I thought might happen. But once again God knew best. My vocation? To communicate, clearly, the complicated.

How I got here? Grace alone.