The smell of an offset printing shop, with the paper dust, ink and rubbing alcohol always time-warps me back to my childhood, going to visit my dad in the print shop where he worked with my grandfather and my uncle. Riding around in the waste paper bins and getting paper cuts. If anyone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was "a Bookbinder", not because I loved books, but because I loved my Dad.
Numerous times in school I took printed and bound specimens into class to talk about what my dad did for a living, and taking magnifying glasses out to show everyone that what went into these images was nothing more than a bunch of tiny little dots. And the difference between a perfect bound and stitch bound book.
I had an idea that printing must be in my blood, because of the generational presence of it in my life. You know, the disney, my father and my grandfather before him was a blacksmith, and now you will be too. The reality of it was, what brought my family into printing was it was a profitable industry, and the mechanical ability and work ethic in my family made them good at that job.
I spent many days going into the plant and helping my Dad by loading the machines and boxing up books. I learned how to work hard, and be smart about solving problems. How to pay attention and troubleshoot. I also learned that I didn't want to work in a factory for the rest of my days.
I figured graphic design must be where it was at. Still in printing, but handling one book at a time, instead of handling hundred of thousands in the bindery. I set this goal and was the first one in my family to go to college, while also working in a print shop part time. It wasn't until the end of college that I actually became interested in the web.
I found that the problem solving skills that came so easily to me, and the drive to constantly find a better way to do things really meshed with building tools and programming. The skills are similar, its just that the tools are in my head, and in my computer rather than being tangible. I'm still delivering information to people. And I'm still using tiny little dots. They're just pixels instead of ink.