I was recently designing some invitation artwork to present to one of our Untuck clients, and one of the concepts was an art nouveau-inspired gatefold doorway invitation. As I traced over the inspiration door in illustrator and then added in my own flourishes to the design, I had to chuckle to myself, because the curlicue and I go way back. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life when I was 15, but if you had told me then that I would sometimes be able to draw curlicues—for a living—I would have about died.
I think my obsession started sometime in the tenth grade. Fourth period was orchestra. I played the violin—but our district was cheap and there was only one orchestra teacher for four schools, so we only had class two or three days a week. (Which is perhaps why I never upgraded to a proper shoulder rest from an rubber-banded-on sponge...) On the days that we didn't have class, I sat in the empty chorus room with my one other friend in orchestra and we tried to come up with ways around the one constant issue plaguing our lives: extreme teenage boredom. Our go-to solution was arguing about who was hotter: a famous WWF wrestler (her) or Gavin Rossdale (me). And then one day I brought a skinny purple Crayola marker to school with me and this washable half-sleeve tattoo happened.
My obsession laid latent in college—being a mass communications major doesn't offer too many opportunities to incorporate curlicues, except maybe in the margins of my notes. It picked back up in grad school, where I did a city branding project on Budapest. I was all over my art nouveau architecture inspiration.
This fixation spilled over into my first website, my first resume, and my first box of business cards (of which I still have about 475 from my box of 500). I even went as far as getting a "design your own credit card" with these curlicues on it. What? Hello, it's personal branding!
These days I try to forgo the gratuitous curlicue, but when the occasion calls for them, I'm all over it. Thankfully, my illustrator skills have improved massively and they actually look like curlicues now and not creepy sea creature tentacles. (For reference, see exhibit A, my first website).