September 14, 2011
I first met Blake when he was literally just a kid, maybe 7 or 8 years old. His dad taught at my high school and was one of the reasons that I really started to enjoy the creative and technological intricacies of media production and photography. Blake’s dad ran the media centre, the school’s television studio, and the graphic arts program. Every so often, Blake could be found tagging along with his dad. This kid was sharp as a tack. Even at this young age, he was intensely inquisitive, observant, and interested in every little detail he’d lay his eyes on.
After graduating from art college, I was fortunate enough to land a job back at my high school as an instructional assistant. This is where I caught up with Blake once again, now a student in his mid-teens. The graphic arts program still involved darkrooms and line cameras and offset presses and teetering piles of Letraset, but it also sported several desks covered with brand new Macs. Macs with software I had heard about, but never actually played with. Macs connected to — of all things — an actual scanner. Macs with something called “HyperCard”.
I had been using computers since the mid-70s, wrote my first program in grade nine, and purchased my own Apple II around the same time I first met Blake. But now it was Blake showing me what these friendly, little beige boxes could really do. He showed me how to trace a scanned image with the bezier tool in Illustrator 88. He taught me how to write simple scripts that did wonderfully complex things using HyperTalk. He introduced me to (Holy crap, it’s a program that makes typefaces!) Fontographer.
At the end of most school days, I would sit down in front of one of those 9-inch screens and attempt to familiarize myself with all these amazing tools that Blake had demonstrated and that the students were using for their projects. I wasn’t getting paid for the hours and hours of extra time I put in and I really didn’t care. I was hooked. I was changed. I was starting a journey down a completely different creative path than I had been anticipating.
Blake was a fundamental catalyst during this period of my life. I mentioned this to him several times over the years and I thank him for it now. You will be missed, my friend.
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