Daily Art Habit

Hooray for Late Bloomers, or How it Took Over Twenty Years for me to Become an Artist

Hooray for Late Bloomers, or How it Took Over Twenty Years for me to Become an Artist

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.