Sitting at the Kids Table

January 1st, 2017 • life

“Most of my career I felt like I was at the kids table. That the CEO’s were in the real meetings and I was the design person. Every once in a while, someone would walk over to the kids table and say where do you get shoes like that?”

As a designer for nearly a decade, I can relate to what David Kelley mentions above. Design has always been something I’ve felt I’ve had to defend, whether it be to an employer, clients or family. Often being the only designer in a room can make you feel as though nobody is taking you seriously.

After all, design is a difficult thing to measure when it comes to ROI. However, over the years I’ve realized that there are two distinct camps. Camp to the left sees the value in design and all that it can be and camp to the right shrugs their shoulders and moves on.

Ya, ya, ya – I get it, not everything needs that designers touch and that’s perfectly okay, but if I had an opportunity to ‘choose my own adventure’ I’ll choose camp left every time.

It just makes sense for a designer to want to spend their energy on projects where design isn’t perceived as all sparkle, no thought.

Which is why I have recently decided to leave my full-time job of two years. The spark finally wore off. It was difficult and surprisingly emotional for me, but I felt restless and complacent with my career. Despite working with some talented friends who have made a huge impact on me both personally and professionally, I know this was the right move.

I’m now in this roller coaster state of excitement and fear. Excitement because I’m now in total control of what I work on and with who, but fear because, well, let’s be honest – who actually knows what they’re doing ever? You make it up as you go and hope for the best.

Feelings aside, it’s interesting for me to note that this is the first time in roughly 15 years I’ve been without a ‘real’ job. No safety net and nothing secure lined up. I say ‘real’ job, because if you’re a millennial, you were brought up with this notion that if you’re not working within a union and receiving a steady bi-weekly pay cheque with a pension plan and 401K benefits, then you don’t have a real job.

Thankfully, my skill set allows me to be independent of this mindset so I’ve decided to take the cannonball plunge into starting my own studio.

I heard a line this year that really stuck with me and it was, “jump and figure it out on the way down”. I guess it stuck for a reason because that’s exactly what I’m doing.