HELLO, MY NAME IS...
At the age of 29 (eh-hm), I am a newcomer to the freelance graphic design profession, having only realized this career path was a legitimate option for me a few years ago. I was working in corporate marketing at Mattel, leading creative strategy and development of digital media advertising. I had actively participated in cultivating that career for the past 7 years, and spent a shit ton of money on school to prepare myself for a future in marketing, but something was always missing. That feeling was always right under the surface; as if my body was rejecting everything I had worked for. I ignored it for many years, until eventually I had to surrender to it. I knew I wanted to be in a more creative role, but I didn’t know how to get from point A to point B, or where and what point B was. I had taught myself how to use the Adobe software, and designed the layout for a student run business magazine in college, but I had no legitimate design experience. So how was I going to convince the world, and more importantly myself, that I was capable of such a role?
When I started at Mattel, I did some ad-hoc design projects and my creative floor mates who passed by my cubicle took note of the work on my screen. They asked if I’d help them with some design overflow from their department, however I had to decline because my technical skills were lacking. But that little bit of recognition was the permission and validation I needed to begin exploring design a little deeper. So I enrolled in some classes at Otis College of Art & Design, and after my first assignment and critique, I was hooked! I had found the missing piece of the puzzle, and from that moment I knew that creating and sharing something from my own point of view was necessary for me to be happy in my career and life.
After 2 ½ years of school, two successful freelance projects, and my years of digital advertising experience, I felt I acquired the skills necessary to become a competitive graphic designer. But I hit a major wall. My dream had become so vivid during those 2 ½ years of school, but when faced with actually making it a reality, I froze. It had become so daunting, it was debilitating. I wanted desperately to leave, but that meant starting over, and risking my future and my savings. I could forget about that oh-so-comfortable and secure life I worked so hard to build...get ready for struggle with a capital S.
But finally, after months of inner turmoil (and MANY bottles of wine) trying to come to a sound decision, it was as if every bone in my body had made the decision for me. Every fear fell away, and I strategized my exit plan with complete confidence. And if starting all over wasn’t risky enough, I decided to dive head first into freelancing. I was naïve about the design world, but I think that allowed me to be a little bit fearless. Call it stupidity or courage of conviction, but I was ready to conquer. All I knew is that I wanted to succeed as an independent designer, so I would figure out how to make that happen.
So here I am, 10 months into this new world as a full-time freelance graphic designer, and let me tell you, it’s been CRAZY. It was a significant struggle to get clients in the beginning, which made me question my entire decision to leave, while at the same time, waving goodbye to all of my money. And working from home had it’s own set of unique challenges. It’s like the universe tests you to see how determined you are, and pushes you to the very edge mentally and emotionally to see if you’ll quit. It's in that moment when you decide to persevere, instead of throwing in the towel, that you are rewarded. I’m thrilled to say that work picked up for me. It has been surreal, exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time, but I’m figuring it out and it’s been the most rewarding time of my life.
Unfortunately, the quest for clients never ends, and I hope that jobs will keep rolling in, but I can’t rely on hope alone. However, there is no blueprint or roadmap to success; everyone’s journey is different. I really needed an expert’s advice and guidance, and luckily I just got accepted into the AIGA LA Mentorship program, which was the catalyst for this entire project. I got matched with the very talented and wise Lawrence Azerrad (LAD DESIGN), and together we formulated an action plan to help me achieve my next set of goals.
As you have probably guessed by now, because this website isn't hiding anything, my project is music related. I am a music junkie; it is an extension of my central nervous system. Music is always playing in my apartment, in my car, in my head, when I'm working, when I’m walking, when I’m not doing anything. It’s a necessary part of my life. I spend way too much money on shows; my credit card bill can attest to my level of commitment to the artists that I love. But the feeling I get when I see that passion explode on stage is intoxicating and incredibly inspiring. Music has inspired me to create on many occasions, and I think when I’m listening and absorbing it, there is some level of visual interpretation that happens in my head.
Check out the next post to see how the project begins to take shape...