This isn't something I've told most people, but for the last few months, I've been preparing a new resume and launching my new website in preparation for job hunting. As much as I love the chalkboard work that I've been doing over the past few years, it hasn't been as sustainable as I would have dreamed. Freelance is a tricky beast, and the "feast or famine" line is usually true when starting out. Especially if you're marketing skills are the pits (that's me). And quite frankly, my creative interests are constantly changing, and I want to do other things besides chalk. And to be down right honest, since the chalkboard trend hit the scene, I begin to wonder if it's just that - a trend. Will it fizzle out soon? Probably. So I'm not going to limit myself there. So I decided to search for a design job that can fund my life while I'm also able to pursue bigger dreams on the side without the pressure of my personal work having to support me financially. It took me a few months to get a new resume together. I wanted it to be unique, so I actually hand-lettered it.
I probably broke a lot of resume rules with this one, but I tried it anyway. As soon as I finished it, I perfected my cover letter and applied for an open position that I had my eye on for awhile. It was for a Product Designer position for EK Success Brands (more specifically, Jolee's Boutique). The job would be designing 3-dimensional stickers for scrapbooking and paper crafts that are sold in major retail stores like Hobby Lobby, JoAnn's, Michaels, Target, Walmart etc. So I applied on a Monday morning and by Monday afternoon, I received a call from the Vice President of the company. We had a 20 minute chat and he scheduled me for an interview on that Wednesday. The urgency sounded promising, right? I was nervous because I haven't applied for a design position in years, but I was also hopeful. The interview went well, and they gave me a week-long assignment so they could evaluate my skill level, work flow and ability to take direction. I knew I was up against some stiff competition because we're in Kansas City, the home of Hallmark Inc., and Hallmark just laid off 250 employees the week prior. I was informed that some designers that recently got laid off were also applying for the postion. That being known, I really put my effort into this project and spent over 40 hours developing the final submissions and taking art direction along the way by communicating with the Art Director (like I was suppose to). The assignment was to create two sticker sheets - one a Spooky Skeleton Halloween theme, and the other a Tween Girls theme. There were all kinds of specifications how each one was supposed to be laid out and how many layers of materials each sticker sheet can have. The illustration was suppose to imulate the materials that the physical stickers would be produced with. And with the Halloween theme, I had to specify which materials were to be used, even though I had to make all that info up by assumption.
Here it is with all the materials listed and processes explained.
And here is the Tween submission (This was to be only one layer of artwork and could include one process, so I chose pink glitter).
For each theme, I had to work off of a mood board and make sure to incorporate certain colors and patterns into the design. I really stretched myself with this process. I mean, I vectored these babies in Illustrator which is not how I usually work. But I was able to prove that I could do it! And I felt confident once submissions were due.
I waited 5 days before receiving an email informing me that they were not going to move forward with me on the position. A little heart breaking (especially if you knew the depths of how much I really NEED it). The Art Director told me that I was very talented and I was able to execute and take direction, but they were looking for someone with more experience in the craft industry. (Have you seen my craft room??? I breath crafts.) But it is what it is.
In my efforts of transparency, I wrote a post on my personal Facebook page yesterday about the outcome. I had already asked my friends and family to pray for the interview, so I had to explain publicly that I did not receive the job. That didn't come easy for me. I don't like to talk about failure. I'd rather wait until I have good news to even mention the fact that I was trying to find a job. But the truth is, not everything is great all the time! Life is very hard, and sometimes I wonder how I've even made it this far! And as I made my failures public and embraced the vulnerability of sharing my "Own Truth", I was overwhelmed by encouragement by my friends and family! It hit me, "Wow, people really appreciate honesty and they really care and they really believe in me". So many times, I do life on my own, inside my mind and only share the UPs and not the DOWNs. Why? To keep a reputation of "having it all together"? Yeah, that's it. But who can actually relate to "having it all together"? Not many. By not sharing my down moments, I could be making others feel isolated in their own down moments. The reality is, we all feel a little wobbly at times, if not completely out of control.
After I read the despairing email, I immediately felt fueled to express myself creatively. I decided to take the energy of sadness and turn it into energy of creative expression. I decided I was really going to put my soul into this, and make something that was nourishing and heart-opening. I used mediums I wasn't use to and I spontaneously began to create without any references in front of me. I made the process about expression rather than skill and it produced a whole new level of satisfaction.
My style inspiration for this piece came from the great soul-bearing ladies such as Sabrina Ward Harrison, Anahata Katkin, and Kelly Rae Roberts. The words were inspired by the song Open Up by The Brilliance. It was such a liberating way of creating art and I hope to keep exploring this raw form of expression.
Sometimes it's hard to trust in God. Sometimes it's hard to trust in yourself of to truly believe that you have what it takes to be valued by other people. But you may be surprised at what happens when you open yourself up and share your own story. I've come to realize that transparency is honorable and I'm making a conscious effort to be more honest with my realities and with my art.