The Importance of Exploration and Experimentation
My Background as a Graphic Designer
I left my corporate 9-5 gig at a clean energy financing company over a month ago and I've been freelancing as an illustrator ever since. I had spent two years at the Art Institute of San Diego studying graphic design and upon graduating in 2013 began working at Renovate America (RA) close to four years as an in-house graphic designer, back when they were still considered a start-up. I started off as a contracted junior designer, mainly cutting up assets for the launch of the HERO Program site, designing one pagers, collateral materials and the like.
The company grew and the more creative projects started coming in.
One of the funnest projects I got to work on involved developing and designing HERO's first library of illustrations. This also involved creating the first set of infographics which eventually led to designing for full-blown seasonal campaigns such as Earth Day 2015 and 2016.
Early this year before I left, the creative team and I got to work with a new creative director on multiple rebranding projects that involved concepting illustrated scenes with new iconography, creating an editorial brand "newspaper" that included all the updates about RA's new messaging, look and feel, tone, etc., and even coordinating an on-site, t-shirt screen-printing event that was part of a week-long internal brand launch.
The Importance of Exploring and Experimenting as an Illustrator
And as an artist, really, which has stuck to my core this entire time "working in the field."
I'm writing about all of this now to provide my readers some background as to who I am and what I've done in my career because something like this would have been helpful and very inspirational while I was still in school. Finding someone who walked the path of their chosen field, put in the hours, paid homage to the design Gods, and decided (because of self-work they had been doing through Reiki, but we can get into that later) that it wasn't fulfilling their sense of purpose in the world to be working toward someone else's dream would have probably saved me a few years and a few thousand dollars of debt.
I don't regret a single thing and the way it all unfolded. This is, after all, the experience we creatives need in order to grow as individuals pursuing illustration, design, or any other creative endeavor. I've made amazing friends, I've grown my network, and I've learned so many things, one of which includes how important it is to explore and experiment, and I'm not just talking about any given project, but one's career as a whole.
Freelancing as an illustrator, developing an entrepreneur mindset and being my own creative director is All. New. To. Me. It's overwhelming but exciting for the same reasons. I keep looking at it through the lens of a new game you're learning how to play —it should definitely be fun, which it has been/is, but there's also strategies you should begin to consider if you've never done so before. It's also a good way to practice balance —knowing when to stop, to save, and continue at a later time.
So What Now?
I'm experimenting with a lot things creatively —from how I approach imagery on my site to a new style of digital collaging for my daily series, and I can't help but stress how important it is to do so as an artist. Even singing a lot more on a daily basis, or clearing out my closet, and saying yes to festivals for the summer, doing trade with other entrepreneurs, all have opened up opportunities for me. Like I've mentioned before it's only been over a month so my journey is in its earliest stages. One of the goals in branding myself as an illustrator with this new site and blog is to document my journey as an independent artist. I hope it also encourages those who are treading along a similar path and are seeking advice, and even those who have blazed the trail and have some pretty gems of wisdom to offer me. Stick around —it's definitely been, and I foresee it being, a very interesting journey.