This week was a shifting process in my life. I took my time to rethink my design work and thought process. I know that there is something more out there that we didn't discover yet in our culture, design, and art.
After long hours of rethinking, why I am still not satisfied with what I'm doing. I met wonderful people all around Tucson, and of course, I spend time with my wonderful husband to get reminded what the world is really about: Love and Laughter. Just simply to be happy, enjoy what you do, but also to be kind to each other. To actually stand behind your work and beliefs.
Since I've moved to a new country many things shifted in my life and also did move my soul. Leaving behind people I loved, getting to know many new people who are kind and just amazing. People who respect me as who I am, cheering me up and giving me hopes to continue what I do love to do.
Working as a creative can sometimes be very crazy but there's no way out of being an artist once you confessed yourself you are one. I can not switch a mode off and stop thinking about my creative processes and work. I can not sit at home and just enjoy myself, I need to work on my projects, I need to realize all ideas I have in my head and heart. It gives me peace to put a word out in this world and to show people what I have in my mind and what my dreams are.
Creating a new world, a story and just work together with amazing people with ideas is a pure joy. I might be shy sometimes and a quite and clumsy person. But I am also funny and a helpful soul who follows their beliefs. I think that's why I chose to study Design years ago. I want to support, to help, and I'm kind of drawn to silent communications. Communications through symbols, through art, through illustrations, through things that sometimes just are unspoken but support a strong message. I do like to not use words and simply showing my messages through a project.
After my graduation, I started to work on different places and agencies. I met the good people and also the bad. I met people who pretended to be a designer (which they weren't, just some random business people) and let actually others just work for their company and they did show off with others people work. I had job interviews with people (self acclaimed designers) who told me straight that working on projects for people with disability or projects about diversity are unsexy and will never pay my bills. I truly had shocking moments where I lost my belief in the creative professional field. Self acclaimed people, rude people, superficial humans. You name it. With a silent personality, I was very often the target of undervalues, rude comments and my work getting exploited for other peoples benefits. This was very painful and made me almost lose my self-confidence in my work and in me as a person.
I thought to myself: "Is everything in advertisement and design just about a certain mainstream lifestyle? Do you have to accomplish a certain lifestyle or pretend to be a Mrs. Perfect to get a job in the creative industry?" I was confused and it threw me a bit off. Because if this is the case I do have the wrong profession with design? Luckily I learned the better side. It took me actually a move across the globe to Tucson to meet amazing creatives who believe in a good world, in a world where everyone can be themselves. And these amazing people made me belief again in valuable work and work towards the beliefs we have.
I do work for a small company with two other honest and supporting designer. We cheer each other up, we support each other and we are honest with each other. This company works for great nonprofit organizations, we do believe in a bigger cause and we believe in our values and that design has a responsibility in our society. I started to love my work again, I started to learn more about design and more about true work values.
It was a relief to experience that there are places where people don't pretend to be someone they aren't. A place there a town openly calls out to "be kind" and a town with wonderful people who work towards a better world because they simply believe in it. I luckily never ever met someone awful again who tries to talk me down in my values and ideas. No superficial idiots, who are self-acclaimed designers and do think everything has to be sexy and to sell. YUCK!
I've met start-up companies who want to support people, creatives who write about diversity and equality, companies who want to connect people and to empower women, creativity, and beliefs. In something like over a year, I found my passion for my design values back again, and I start to believe again in a good world and in design that empowers people to be themselves. I start to believe again that there is a place for believing in bigger ideas, not just companies who are drawn into "being sexy and to sell" (still yuck!).
It is great to know that my work follows a greater cause than just being "sexy and pay the bills" (sorry rude company owner, I really need to fire back right now). I found my voice again and I will speak up against things that support inequality. I speak up against discrimination and I do speak up that everyone, no matter who or what you are, is responsible to make the world a better place. No matter how small your abilities are to change things, even the smallest effort has a great effect in the long term. I do want to use my voice and abilities to follow the way of a mindful and responsible designer.
I reflected this week that I never want to turn back on the way I did choose for myself. I want to be a responsible designer, I want to support what I do believe in and I want to work with mindfulness, not blindness driven by mainstream stupidity. I don't want to focus on money, reputation or common boring taste. I want to be a thinker of the future and of a better place. People will never have the ability again to exploit my creativity, to talk me down, or to undervalue me. I learned my lesson to never go back into a company who is just awful and doesn't think of design as a bigger idea to support our culture and every human being.
This is an open letter to all self-called designer, creatives and just horrible company owners who don't have any sense of what design really is about. It is about change and the belief in a better world. I'm glad I experienced the good and the bad of working in a creative field. And I am just happy to work with creatives and meet people who are just amazing and a huge inspiration to me. I am glad that I found companies who support creative ideas. Thank you for inspiring me and make me believe in the creative industry again!
It is difficult to talk about this experience, because it was hurting my beliefs and my self-confidence. It is a vulnerable part of my experiences as a creative professional. But I do think it is important and to speak up for everyone. Because I'm sure that I am not the only one who went through a difficult time in their profession and questions many things: "Are all designers just driven by their own success and reputation?" (I fellow students in my class who were manipulating and just caring about to get advantages over others, stealing ideas, lying, self-centered, you name it), "Are there designers who believe in a bigger value than just looks and likes?"... If you ask yourself the very same questions, let me give you this advice:
You definitely experience the wrong people, who will never succeed in the long run. Stay true to yourself and your beliefs in why you have chosen your profession. There are better people and places. You just need to move on and never stop believing in yourself. Especially not because people try to talk you down.
I hope if you go through this experiences that you grow out of this situation and use this to remind yourself to do better. For example, I am glad about my process and that I have grown so much since my graduation. No university can prepare you for these awful situations. This is life and we have to go through this and grow bigger in our values. Don't give up or let yourself down.
I have many new projects in mind to accomplish for the following year:
- I want to continue on ideas about my "diversity design" projects. Which I needed to lay down for a year, due to moving and due to horrible people who tried to talk me out about it back in Germany. This work is so important to me and gives my soul peace.
- I want to put a focus again on my personal projects besides working for amazing clients. I need both perspectives to keep my sake as a creative. I love to work on a process together with amazing people who have visions. I enjoy making people happy and to support with my creative work. But I also do need to nurture my visions and keep track of my personal ideas. They have to get out there and I have to communicate them more. Keeping track of my voice and ideas is important, so I won't get stuck in my creative work.
- Keep mindfulness in my creative design process.
- Love and being thankful and smile! Raising my voice and ideas.
So there's a lot to do, and a lot going on in my creative thoughts right now. I want to establish my freelance career, keep all the friendships with amazing people I've met so far, connect with more amazing people, and I want to start my freelance career the right way. Not the way of pure money making, or doing what a mainstream society likes. I want to do this my way and to establish a work that follows a bigger cause, my values, and supports people. I don't want to make pretty things, I want to be authentic and true to myself and my visions.