When I was a kid, I loved playing with duplicates of greeting cards, cutting out figures and assembling them into little shadow box art. Cardboard glued between the cards and attached to the background made the little figures pop out into space. The fact that they were flat and I could give them dimension was their charm. I never made anything worth keeping, but I loved making 2D art into a 3D world. I think that was the beginning of my love of set design.
Unfortunately, I didn't have much exposure to theater arts, so instead of continuing to explore 3D imagery, I spent my time drawing or illustrating my friends names into cool lettering forms on flat surfaces. Then I saw a student's portfolio who'd graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in graphic design. Now here was a place where my love of art and lettering could translate into a gainful career.
The biggest thing I got out of studying graphics was that I could combine images together with typography to make something that could communicate a message. This was perfect. I didn't have to be an expert at drawing or photography–I could leave that up the professional illustrators and photographers. What I found was that I was good at thinking up ideas and assembling images into a interesting design to reinforce my concept.
As a set designer I found a lot of pleasure making model pieces for shows. After I was done I would take the extra pieces and incorporate them into another art piece. Here's one where I arranged the set pieces for All Shook into another art story.