What is it? /// A Prompt / by Jen Bachelder

Before I jumped ship on my 9-5, I started thinking back to high school, back to the first time "what do you want to be when you grow up?" actually mattered. Adults started listening to your answers with genuine interest and quickly expected to see some action. I was brave enough to say "artist" out loud. I declared graphic design as my major. Seven years later, I found myself with a business card that said Event Producer. Wait. What? WTF. Where did my bravery go?

On a recent trip to Chicago, I was introduced to Michael Kavanagh -- a friend of a friend (also a colleague of a colleague) who's interviewing full time creatives. We met over coffee (okay, I had hot cider) and spent nearly two hours discussing the major milestones that got me to this place. He followed up our meeting with an additional prompt.

You probably could've pursued a bunch of different paths besides graphic design and studio art, but pretty decisively went down that route as early as picking that in college and in many ways probably earlier than that. Why do you think that is? What is it that draws you to graphic design and art so much? Is there something in particular you love about it, something it brings to you? - Michael Kavanagh, February 14, 2016

You know those terrible stories that your parents tell about you? The ones that hold zero emotion for you, and even less interest for the audience? If Michael had asked, "Why?" of my mother, that's the exact kind of story he'd get from her. She tells strangers (who seriously do not care) about a coloring "assignment" I was given in kindergarten. Apparently, everyone got a single sheet with a pair of outlined mittens. My classmates did what they were asked; picked a color and filled in the lines. The legend goes that I spent hours adding my own perfectly mirrored design using every color at my disposal. Was it probably just some kinda-similar scribbles? Yeah, that's where my money is.

There's only one word in that story that really rings true today: hours.

When I'm making something with my hands, sketching out the opportunities, recutting the line until it feels just right, searching for the perfect color combination... I get lost. Time slips away, ticking quickly and stopping all together at exactly the same time. A good project makes me late to appointments. I miss phone calls. Disregard common waking hours. Forget what day it is. Totally trash my house. It's crazy. And weird. And wonderful. And perfect.

I feel more like myself with a paintbrush in my hand than any other tool. Spreadsheets are cool too, but why not fight for number one? I mustered the courage to pick this path a long time ago. Now, all I have to do stay the course.

 

Title Photo: Alejandro Escamilla via Unsplash