Starting from the bottom. . . Again


You know that moment when you think you have pretty decent skills in one area, only to be shown that you aren’t as skilled as you thought? Well friends, that is where I found myself last night.

As mentioned in a previous post, I’m working with my brother to update my design portfolio. It has been a few years since I held a graphic design staff position so I suppose it is normal for me to be rusty. The sucky part is that I’ve gotten weaker in the area of composition and how to prioritize information. Jr asked me to do a couple of mock designs and a mood board as my first project. After reviewing my work over the phone, out of my three concepts, he said that one had a bit of promise but it still lacked in major areas. My mood board tanked too. Sheesh, I’m starting from the bottom again!

He sent me some articles to look over and asked me to re-create the mood board. My mind feels shocked and fried all at the same time. To think that my skills have sunk this far. . . That proves that if you don’t make it a point to keep up with design trends over time, you’ll get left in the dust. Two years is like 14 in the creative sector. I’ve been working wherever I can just to bring home a paycheck since 2012. Sadly, none of those jobs involved Photoshop. My brother mentioned that I should have tried honing in on my skills while I didn’t have an industry job. I know he’s right but I still got irked. It’s hard to create something without an actual design brief or someone to give you feedback on the work. When you have a day job serving coffee to snobs and borderline depressed about your life, it’s a-whole-nother ballgame.

After college, I couldn’t understand how I could do so well in school and not find work anywhere in my field. Because of my degree, it was also difficult to find minimum wage work because I was overqualified. I was unemployed for six months before finally finding a few retail/fast food/stipend jobs. The longer I worked at these places and dealt with the clientele that comes along with them, them more hopeless I felt. One night during a conversation about work with my husband I went from laughing to crying uncontrollably. I felt like a failure. The little checks that I brought home couldn’t pay any bills. People talked to me like I was an idiot all day and I was doomed to spend my 30 minute lunch breaks in a cramped inventory space. I couldn’t take it any longer. I prayed a lot during this time and my husband agreed to move us elsewhere so I could have better opportunities in the Dallas metroplex.

Being in Texas gave me courage. It took nine more months of being a barista before I landed the interview for the company that I currently work for but it was worth it. I wasn’t able to get the design job I applied for but they hired me on as a support team member. Now that I’m back in the field, I really want to get back to making art. My current position is not about creating, its about maintaining and managing. I manage the content, apply design treatments to content based on what’s already there, delete it, but I don’t create anything.

As all artists, I’ve grown restless of not creating for hire. Once I get my skills back up to par, I plan to apply for as many design spots as I can. Aside from designing again, I also want to make more income. I’m a married woman and two years away from 30 (though I look 16 most days). Needless to say, I have some goals and loans that require funds, more than I currently make. I won’t reveal my salary, but let’s just say, I can’t live on it and pay all of my bills without my husband’s income. I still feel like I haven’t reached the goal of feeling like I have much to give our family financially. However I’m grateful that one of my paychecks can now cover our rent and not just a week’s worth of groceries.

It would have been easy to get bent out of shape after having my work evaluated but the truth is that I have been much worse situations. I may not have the needed skills now, but one skill that I never let get dull is my ability to learn. I am going to put time aside to work on whatever my brother sends me, read the articles, takes notes, and fail again and again. If you stick with something long enough and work hard, progress is only a matter of time. If there is something you want to do or become in life. always remember that we all begin at the starting line, not three feet away from the finish line tape. You’re not going to be as good as you want to be in the beginning so don’t even trip. Don’t look around to see who is ahead of you. You are running in a one-woman (or man) race so focus on putting one foot in front of the other. It’s ok to fall, to feel bad or angry. It’s not ok to quit. You don’t always have to know where you are going. You just need to have the courage to take the next step.

Have courage,
Elle

New Start, New State


We are almost three years in since my Life After Undergrad journey began. There’s been many challenges since then, including having to put my laborador/boxer mix, Laila Ali, up for adoption. But in one week, everything is about to change. That’s right, Brandon and I are hitting the road for a new start in a new state.

We’ve been saving money for a new start since October while living the ‘grid life’ but originally, that new start was simply a new local apartment. But after several conversations, prayers and research, we realized that we had the chance to do something bigger than we thought. We both agreed that we needed to be in a place where the both of us would prosper in our careers. Entertainment options are very important to us, I mean, come on. We’re a childless couple in our 20’s for goodness sake.

Of course we realize that every city has its own pros and cons that are more ideal for some people rather than others. After all, Dallas is known for its traffic jams and high theft areas in certain parts of town. Like any city, there are places that you shouldn’t go at night or during the day for that matter. The weather, terrain and wildlife are more factors to consider when you are moving to a new place. Neither Brandon or I have lived in Texas, let alone Dallas so this is going to be quite the adventure. We are going to have to start from scratch as far as making friends and networking. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

When you move to a new place, you have the advantage of the unknown. Noone knows anything about your accomplishments, failures or embarrassing moments. With every encounter, you get to re-invent yourself into anything you want to be without preconceptions getting in your way. If you were overly involved in organizations or social groups before, moving allows you to push everything off of your obligation list and re-discover yourself. Take some time to remember what its like to be a face in the crowd instead of behind the curtain. The things you had to sacrifice before (time with your family, taking care of your health, re-modeling your personal style or simply being able to do nothing at all after work hours) become yours for the taking. And before you jump into a busy routine again, contemplate why you were a part of so many things; was it because you genuinely enjoyed it or something else?  Time is the most precious thing we have and it should be spent on things that take you in the direction you want to go. You are allowed to say no when it comes to your life.

Perhaps like me, you’ve developed the habit of putting out Grade A work but only getting Grade F compensation. Sure, you might have thought this strategy was a good way to get your name out but think again. Your name will be out there but all of your new and potential clients are going to expect to get the same thing; executive results for minimum wage. Yes, I said executive. You are the champion of your business and deserve to be compensated accordingly.In a new place you can re-evaluate your worth and rebrand your business. It’s ok if the bargain hunter crowd passes on hiring you, your product is NOT a bargain item. It’s valuable, you are valuable and can choose the type of person you want to work with, not for, WITH.  This is not a ‘I need you more than you need me’ setup. You have something they want and vice versa. Remember, diamonds aren’t cheap, yet, everybody wants one.

xoxo,

TheArtistic Chic