Drifting (Plummeting?) onto the Right Career Path.
You drew very detailed sketches of your family in the backyard when you were three, discovered photoshop, learned about ascender and descender characters, and cross strokes when you were in high school. You were hooked up with a spot on the yearbook committee, and worked some magic with layout. Soon, you were flipping through a course catalog trying to decide your college major. That’s when you saw it. Graphic Design. Could it be? The thing you’d always considered your hobby was actually a legit career option?
Four years later, you’ve graduated college, developed a portfolio of impressive (albeit beginner) projects, finished up your first internship, and are getting ready to spread your wings at an agency downtown…
Okay, so maybe that’s not exactly how it happened to you… but for a lot of people, initial career choices don’t live up to expectations.
Some just fall into their career paths. Take Steven Heller, for example. He’s an art director, but that wasn’t always his goal.
“Art direction was not exactly my calling. It was more of a beckoning. I wanted passionately to be a humorous illustrator but the joke was on me. While I was a successful class clown, my drawing skills never equaled my innate wit (or lack thereof). So if I wanted to have any semblance of a career in commercial art, which I did, I needed to transcend my failing and find an alternative path to fulfillment.”*
Heller began with ambitions of becoming a cartoonist, recognized it wasn’t going to happen and adjusted his goals. He kept his focus in the art industry, and ended up in a career that until recently hasn’t been concretely defined. He’s even helped write a book to help do so.
On the flip side, illustrator Matthew Daley knew from day one he wanted to be a cartoonist.
“When I was in the 8th grade I developed a large comic book buying habit. Two books in particular that blew me away around this time were “The Dark Knight Returns” by Frank Miller and “The Shadow” as illustrated by Kyle Baker. I loved to draw from a young age, but by the time I’d become that serious comics nerd, I decided that’s all I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Others think they’ve landed their dream job, only to find out more exciting opportunities lurk around the corner.
Saul Bass, one of the great graphic designers of the mid-20th century, began as a commercial artist in New York City. After developing a strong desire for freedom in his creativity, he moved to Los Angeles and opened up his own advertising studio. There, he was asked to design a movie poster. That went so well he was asked to design an entire movie sequence. The next thing he knew he was creating animated movies and working with Martin Scorsese on a cinematic career path.
Let one path lead you down another if you’re uncertain where the road ends. In the creative field, the more experience you have in work and life will only make you a more skilled professional. It’s how you acquire taste.
- Art Direction, Explained at Last by Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne.