I used to peer into Excel spreadsheets wondering if there was more to life than this.
As is the case with many creatives, my career path has been a long and winding road, with each step an attempt to bring myself closer to pursuing my true passion. Armed with a liberal arts degree with a major in Fine Arts, I began my career at Martha Stewart Living in a position that required no creativity, and quickly realized that I was miserable. Acknowledging this was one thing, but actually doing something about it was something else entirely! It took me many years to realize that I had no alternative other than to chart my own path.
Seeking out support from mentors, career coaches and creative co-workers, I mustered the courage to begin learning the Adobe programs which eventually led to an entry level product design position. From there, I worked all the way up to a Design Director at Martha Stewart Living. During my ten years with the company, I designed and developed Martha Stewart branded product for partnerships with Kmart, Sears, Macy’s, Home Depot and Grandin Road. I spent the following decade as the Creative Director for Alene Candles and then PartyLite, both candle manufacturers, where I oversaw the design of product and graphics for brands, licenses and retailers from mass market to luxury.
Yet I had a nagging feeling that a career in design wasn’t “it” for me and would ultimately be creatively limiting. I was frustrated, especially when talking to others whom I viewed as “real” artists: visual artists who could allow themselves to paint and draw without restraint. I began taking the risk of actually trying to make my own art, which was not easy. What if I made bad art? What if I had dumb ideas? A first goal was to simply create art for 15 minutes a day, relieved by the ding! of my kitchen timer. After that, I resolved to take scarier, more public, steps—attending art classes, applying to open calls, introducing myself as an “artist,” building a website of my artwork, renting a studio. It took years for me to stop feeling like I was an imposter and realize that I was actually building a career as a professional artist.
I have since exhibited my mixed media artwork both locally and nationally. My work has been featured on Hyperallergic, Gothamist, Brooklyn Magazine, Delve Art, Gallery Gurls and in The Believer Magazine. Recently, I was a 2018 Artist-in-Residence at the Bard Graduate Center Library in New York City, and I am currently preparing for a solo show early next year at Ground Floor Gallery in Brooklyn, NY.
As a career coach and personal identity designer, I draw upon this background of over 20 years in branding, graphic design and visual art along with my own experience charting a creative path. I also speak publicly about charting your own way and teach design portfolio classes at The City College of New York (CUNY), preparing college seniors for their careers in the arts.