I originally intended to publish this post as just the graphic, but then something happened last night that I couldn't not gush about: I started my Graphic Design short course at Central Saint Martins.
I decided to sign up for the course last year when, in a fit of frustration, I realised that I need to have creative jobs - not admin jobs or fundraising jobs or project management jobs (Unless they're creative project management jobs) but jobs that actually require my creative skills and imagination. So I looked at my work experience and the things I've enjoyed most at each job I've had.
When I was working with youth in care I got to project manage the development of a booklet for youth transitioning out of care, which involved designing the layout and look of the book, as well as developing and writing the content.
When I worked as a researcher on a collaborative project to raise awareness of violence in and towards the gay and transgendered community part of my job involved working on the development of the content and design of the website.
As the founder of a not for profit organisation I took on pretty much every role imaginable but enjoyed myself the most when I was working on the promotional 'zine, posters and other marketing material - not to mention the fun of designing the logo with the input of the youth involved. Not to mention the absolute fantastic time I had performing in drag, which ties into the experience I had last night.
For a time IKEA was brilliant because my day consisted of building things. They weren't of my creation but it was fun to put stuff together and I had a great sense of satisfaction at the end of the day when I had seven or eight physical pieces that represented the work I had done.
When I came to London I was still in the middle of my Tarot Card painting series. I had a large creative project which sustained me as I began working at yet another charity in yet another administration based role. I was lucky enough to get a manager that saw my love of all things creative. He appreciated my talent and skills and he was really good at his job. He knew that, as a manager, it was up to him to find ways to maximise on my skills to the benefit of the charity whilst also feeding my energy. If not for him I'd not have stayed at that job for as long as I did and, if not for him, I would never have begun working on digital design.
I spent the last two and a half years doing everything from website development to print material layout to social media marketing. I got to work with Illustrator and InDesign, work to deadlines, work without a brief, work under immense pressure and work entirely to my own tune. It was varied and manic but when I was designing I was content and that alone kept me going.
But I wasn't hired there as a designer and though it was a large part of what I did, it wasn't in my job title or description. So I quit and at that time my focus was on finding clients so I could start a life coaching practice.
I still want to be a life coach and one day I will be, but I was struggling because, try as I might, I couldn't find my niche. I want people to see how awesome life is and I love helping them open their eyes to the absolutely wonder of the world. I don't have a niche as to how or who I want to help with that - mostly because I want to help everyone live the life they love. If I've learned anything about marketing, I've learned that you have to have a clear message. I didn't and couldn't come up with one so I changed my approach. I decided to jump track and go a different direction. And in a fit of inspiration I signed up to an intermediate Graphic Design course at Central Saint Martins.
Last night I walked onto the campus and I felt a great sense of having arrived. I was where I belonged. The air smelled of art supplies and the vast space stretched out invitingly before me. The lyrics to 'Common People' - the song which defined my drag persona - made this place feel mythical and almost unreal. Yet there I was, with a kit full of supplies, (gouache, pens, scissors, glue, pencils, pencil crayons) a brand new sketchbook, and all the creative energy I spend too much time ignoring.
It could have been so easy for it to crash and burn, as my giddiness mounted and my expectations grew, but it was much like my other experiences of schooling post-high school. I dismissed post secondary and have not regretted it. I won't even now, even as I think of that gorgeous, gorgeous school and how much I'd love to go back tomorrow and the day after and every day for an entire semester if I could afford it.
Thing is, I wasn't ready for post secondary when I was eighteen. I was ready for work and I'm so glad I did. Because I sat in that class and had confirmation that I may not be a senior or even mid-weight designer (yet), but I know how design works and I've been going about it the best way possible. As the instructor explained how the course would work and covered off the basics of graphic design I ticked off boxes in my head.
Research. Tick. Find inspiration. Tick. Conceptualize with drawing and/or writing. Tick.
This course will be an opportunity for me to do some hands on work with things I've not been able to do before but it's also enforcing the fact that I have a great skill set and I'm a talented Creative Specialist. The validation I felt last night was incredible an the resulting energy and enthusiasm led me to write this rather long blog post.
Feed your bliss people. If you do what you love you will do it well and it will bleed into all aspects of your life. Life is too unpredictable to not follow your dreams, take chances, and explore.
I want to dedicate this post and the accompanying graphic to Ian - the best manager I've ever had and a damn fine friend as well.