With a couple of clients already under my belt and a degree in hand, I felt all grown up and ready to hit the design world running! My enthusiasm landed me in a Fortune 100 insurance company in San Francisco where I was hired as a Forms Designer. What the heck was a Forms Designer? The company trained me on how to draw forms, by hand! The Macintosh computer didn’t exist yet, nor did any graphic apps. I had to learn to draw forms the old fashion way, with pen, ink and a ruler. Everything had to be drawn, laid out, and prepared for press manually on a drawing board.
After a year, I was promoted to the Advertising Department. YAY!!! Finally made it upstairs where the real design stuff was happening, but all the art was still done by hand! My position was Graphics and Statistical Illustrator. All that time, I continued to freelance and build my home business while I worked full-time. I commuted by train to and from San Francisco every day. When I got home, I worked on my freelance jobs till the wee hours of the morning with only three to four hours of sleep every night.
As the years passed, my career progressed and I was living the American Dream, as a wife, a homeowner, a business owner, and a new job as an Art Director. I continued working my part-time business while working full-time, and eventually was able to quit my full-time job. I became a stay-at-home working mom so I could be with my two little children. I worked my graphic design business from home and later moved the business into a design studio. With technology moving at such a fast pace, I had to teach myself the Macintosh computer and all the graphic software, in order to stay competitive in the industry.
Everything was now all about technology and I was smack in the middle of the dot-com boom where internet start-ups were popping up everywhere. I kicked my super-mom powers into high gear and successfully worked with many of the Fortune 100 corporations and start-ups. However, I found myself having to shift gears again, but this time as a single mom with two children and one income.
In the years that followed, I focused diligence in finding ways to survive and still continue designing on a dime. I found as money got tighter, I became more resourceful in finding cheap materials and ways to express my creativity. My will and my faith empowered me. I honed in on all the skills that God blessed me with and managed to land on my feet. Using all my entrepreneurial skills in Business, Graphic Design, Special Events, Marketing and Branding, I managed to reinvent myself into a new career as a Marketing Communications Director and Director of Marketing working with founding executives of internet start-ups.
Everything was going great until the dot-com bubble busted. This was an epoch period of economic decline with dot-coms shutting down, unemployment, and declining stocks. For the small business owner like myself, this meant losing major accounts, non-collectible invoices, and no future business. I was no stranger to the struggles of surviving not just the dot-com bust but also the recession, years later. I had been on these paths before. Reinventing myself had become my norm.
I thought about all the things I already knew how to do and could learn to do. There was no room for my pride to stand in the way. I cleaned, organized and redesigned homes, offices, closets, and garages. I worked with caterers not just as a designer, but as a server and part of the kitchen crew. I didn’t just design and create ads and brochures for car dealerships, I sold the cars too. I designed the coupons and ads for marketing companies, but I also went door-to-door and sold the ad space, as well. When I was fortunate to land executive and management roles in start-ups, I didn’t mind wearing multi-hats with lessor roles. There was no job too small, or too big. I was on the fast track to surviving!
Looking back now, they were rough times, but they were also the best times, because I mastered skills I would never have learned otherwise. My children are all grown up now, graduated from college and have found success in their chosen creative careers. Yup! The apples didn’t fall far from the tree! I have had a long creative journey since my parents’ subtle teachings, and my life has come full circle now. It has been a long bumpy road getting here, but today I celebrate my artistry.