Making the Leap: Transitioning Between Careers
by Taylor Slattery | February 17, 2020
Art has always been an integral part of western civilization. However, at some point along the way, artists fell from grace in public opinion. The not-so-famous ones at least. Collectively, we still celebrate those at the top, but for the rest of us, there’s a stigma around creative jobs. Sure, you may not be the next Beyonce or Picasso, but that doesn’t mean you can’t carve out your own lane and make a living. Many still believe creative careers aren’t viable. This is simply due to ignorance.
There are more creative jobs than ever before. Smartphones, vehicles, movies, advertisements, even the pancake mix packaging, everything we use, watch, and interact with was designed. Most people just don’t realize that someone in a creative field played a role in its creation. This is objectively the best time to be creative in all of human history, though most outside of creative fields would have no idea. Understandably so. I mean, prior to 10 years ago, nobody would have thought you could become a millionaire by making videos of yourself playing video games.
Maybe you wanted to pursue a creative job, but you were persuaded not to by your parents. Or maybe you’re just now finding out that you enjoy art and wouldn’t mind making it for a living. In either case, if you’re working a job you don’t enjoy and are daydreaming of jumping ship, read on.
Firstly, it’s important to know that it’s never too late. If you’re older, it can be discouraging to see amazing works created by people half your age. The gap in skill may feel insurmountable. However, this is not the case. Van Gogh didn’t start painting until his late 20s, and Monet didn’t make the paintings he is most known for until his 40s. If you can truly dedicate yourself, there’s no such thing as too late. Also, you have experience on your side. You’ve learned how to do new things before, and you can apply those lessons in your creative pursuits as well.
The next step will be to dip your toes in and check the temperature. When we’re unhappy or in a situation in which we feel we have no control, it’s easy to romanticize other ways of living. Once you feel like your work is up to par, you may be chomping at the bit to quit your job and never look back. Before you do, it’s important to test the waters. Maybe a creative job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be or just not a great match for you. Before you burn any bridges, try taking baby steps. Freelance after work and on the weekends or maybe even consider working part time. Your feelings towards your creative discipline may change once it becomes a job. If that’s the case, then maybe it’s better off as just a hobby.
If you’ve made it this far and you’re still convinced a creative career is the right match for you, there’s one last thing you need to do. Save your money. If someone in your life tried or succeeded in dissuading you from a creative career, assuming they are a good-natured person and care about you, stability was probably their main reason for doing so. And they weren’t completely wrong. If you are preparing to set sail as a freelancer, just know, you’re heading into choppy waters. Some months will be dry. Having savings will help you to weather the storm and avoid shipwreck.
If you’re willing to brave the waters, I think you’ll find the voyage to be more than worth your while. Safe travels.
Taylor is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Taylor is a graphic designer, illustrator, and Design Lead at Weirdsleep.