Let’s talk about the first time you remember knowing you wanted to be a creative person. Like many of you, I was always coloring, writing bad poetry and short stories, always making something. Even if it was horrible (it was). But I have two distinct memories of thinking – I want to do THAT when I grow up. They are both semi-embarassing, but what’s a blog without sharing some cringes together, right?
The first memory that comes to my mind is when I was in elementary school, probably 5th grade, and I had just gotten a beautiful new pack of Prismacolor colored pencils. I cherished them. I loved that they were specifically for creating something. They felt powerful and special. Still do. Anyway, I remember taking WAY too much time to write “MATH HOMEWORK” at the top of my paper, each letter in a different color, lovingly drawn and spaced This isn’t exactly a groundbreaking thing to do as a 5th grader, I know. But it was when I sat down to do homework with my mom that the revelation came. You see, I was terrible at math like many creative people I know. It was a seriously frustrating subject for me that more than once made me (and my parents) think I had a learning disability. So my mom was already exasperated with me when I pulled out my beautifully “hand lettered” homework. She said, “Ann. This isn’t ART. It’s MATH!” I thought to myself -“Well, that sucks and I don’t want to do Math. I want to do Art. How can I just do Art forever ?” Little did I know both subjects would both converge in a design career! I’m much better at math now, thank you very much.
Ok, now the embarrassing example. Children of the early 90’s – remember the “Yaga” brand? It was sort of a rasta/skater/safely rebellious for 12 year olds brand? Yeah. Well, I thought this logo, branding, the entire story around Yaga was the coolest thing in the world. I bought in hook line and sinker. I had one shirt that I wore every Friday. And in the pre-internet age, I didn’t have ready access to the logo. So, I drew it and redrew referencing my precious shirt. This really is embarrassing. But the point of my story is that I had this love of it. This love for the brand and what it made me feel about myself. A love of a logo that told a story to me. I drew that thing on my notes! On my books! On my shoes! People probably thought my name was Yaga. Ok, so the brand might not have lasted, but the memory of connecting with it did and helped illuminate my eventual career path.
It always interests me to hear what people remember about deciding to follow their hearts in work and life. It often ends up being something they loved since they were children. The lawyer that becomes a firefighter. A teacher that becomes a jewelry maker. A 9 to 5’er that becomes a wedding photographer. How did they get there? Was it always there? If you are making a living doing what you truly love, I suspect for many people it was just a matter of stepping back onto a path they were already on.