Twenty plus years ago, I decided NOT to become an artist.
Even while working towards my degree in Art and Art History at the University of Washington, I didn’t intend to become an artist. I felt I wouldn’t be strong enough to express my identity and emotions in my artwork. It felt too vulnerable.
As it turned out, I was in the right place at the right time for another path. When the first graphical Web browser hit the scenes in 1994, I saw a chance to use both sides of my brain – my creative visual and design skills, plus analytical and logical skills – in a new field.
I got busy not being an artist by teaching myself Web design and HTML, eventually getting a job as an Interactive Developer in a branding and design agency. Back then, we called it New Media, and I loved the newness. There were few rules and lots of room to experiment and discover. It felt free.
I continued the agency career track for six years, playing out the life of a successful young professional – the jet-setting consultant with the urban condo. It was what I thought I wanted… yet something was missing. I felt constrained and uninspired. It was time for a break; it was time for freedom.
So my husband and I quit our jobs, put our things in storage, and flew to Europe. Our idea was to combine two bucket list goals – an extended tour of Europe and ski-bumming for a season – into a year-long sabbatical. I had an ulterior motive as well – to strip away my preconceived notions of success and break down my life, so that I could build it back up again.
When we returned to Seattle, I found inspiration as an entrepreneur, and founded/co-founded three different companies over the next seven years, focusing on user experience/Web development, educational iPad games, and leadership development and company culture. It looked like success, but it came at a price. A part of me was missing, and without it, I ran out of energy.
Completely depleted, I started a new exploration. What gives me energy? Where is my inspiration? What makes my heart sing?
I found it in what I ignored so many years ago. More than twenty years later, I am ready to be an artist.