When I was asked to be one of the presenters for "The Journey So Far", a lecture for the graduating Illustration Seniors at Mass Art, I leaped at the chance. Speaking in front of people has been one of the biggest things I have tried to work on this past year. I've always been shy but I truly love talking with people about Illustration, their businesses, process, systems, planning ect. One has always gotten in the way of the other.
One of the biggest challenges I found was figuring out what to talk about. I feel as if I have just recently embarked on a new journey yet all that happened leading up to it is part of my story too. It is an appropriate time for me to reflect as I prepare for Surtex, my first real step into the Licensing industry. When I started it seemed like a long time to prepare for this event, but knowing what I know now, I almost can't believe what I have have produced and the amount of information I learned in only a year and a half. I realized that all of the decisions I have made this year have been quick and sure. I have yet to find out if they were correct but I have an extreme amount of faith that I am on my intended path at the right time. I don't feel that I would have been able to make these decisions coming right out of college.
For a long time I grieved the plans I had made when life threw me a curve ball and I found out I was going to be a mother. Now I see that my daughter came to me at the most perfect time. A time of transition. I spent the first part of my life after school reacting to situations so I never had time to worry about the question of "what's next." At this stage I have experiences which I only feel will benefit me as I move into this new industry. Always having been a multi-tasker, I have brought the skill to a new height as I have juggled being an illustrator, wife, mother, optician, and design assistant. I have had the unique experience of learning how a business runs from the inside out from paying taxes, to bookkeeping, to registering an LLC and all that is in-between.
As much as I have had a high stress year in an odd way it has also been effortless. The process of designing collections has just seemed to flow. I was drawing and painting quicker with better results. I never seemed to be short for inspiration or ideas, almost as if I had been holding them dormant for all these years. What a wonderful feeling to do what I was designed for. This year was the first time I heard my daughter tell someone "my mom is an artist" and it almost made me cry.
When I was in school I remember sitting in those same chairs completely mesmerized by anyone who came to share. I am still that way! I will sit and listen to just about anyone who will tell their "how I got here" stories. You start to realize that everyone has their own journey and their own pearls of wisdom they picked up along the way. Just getting to hear the other presenters was worth the trip in. I got to find out about James Lema's story as he grew from a black and white cartoonist to one of the designers of Poptropica. Matthew Gauvin and his tireless pursuit of Children's illustration. Zsuzsi Sgedi who began designing textiles in high school continued her studies in illustration and now does Fine Art and Gallery Work. I am always amazed at the numbers of talented people who come out of that school. But I am also reminded that there are far more who give up after a while and become those who went to school for art but then did something else. That always makes me a little sad but it also acts as a motivator.
I know what I talked about today was not the rags to riches story the students were wanting to hear, but I hope it was one which would remind them that its never too late to start a new journey. It's okay if you don't find your true calling the second you step out into the real world. It will take time to find your path and your stride but that doesn't mean you should sit ideally until that occurs. All of your life experiences even if they seem completely unrelated at the time somehow will benefit your true calling. I'm so happy to be reminded of this fact. I don't need to have every aspect of my life and career all figured out. They are allowed to grow and develope organically, just as they were intended.