BECAUSE “I LOVE WHAT I DO” ISN’T QUITE ENOUGH.
Let’s be straight here. It’s tough out there, and not just in graphic design and the creative space. With current levels of job instability, more and more people are realising the dream of starting their own business. Some will be hard-headed, straight-laced, ‘go in with a plan’ types, and others will potter away at it more like a hobby. But they’re out there, and it’s creating a lot of competition.
So, how, in a sea of competition, do we find our niche and find our market? And when I say market, I want you to think of it like a bazaar. An actual place where people meet and exchange wares. A place for discussion, observation, give and take. Our market should be people who are genuinely curious about what we have to offer, not a demographic of people we’d really, really like to syphon money from. We have to ask ourselves why. Why do I do what I do?
I’ve always been creative. In my younger years at school I spent longer decorating my homework than I did answering the questions. In high school, I took graphic design despite the fact it threatened to lower my chances of getting into university. I knew I wanted to help people but I wasn’t entirely sure how. Surely graphic design, doing what I enjoyed, wasn’t actually going to help humanity. Surely pursuing a creative career was a guaranteed fast-track to moral and financial ruin. Surely it was better to offer people ‘help’ than inspiration. After all, how do we know what inspires people? If you’ve ever watched Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk (the charismatic author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic) on Marie TV, you will have a good understanding of where this is going. Following your dreams inspires people. Be you. What you do doesn’t matter. Whether or not someone has already done it doesn’t matter. Whether someone does it better than you doesn’t matter. Why you do it, does.
"FOLLOWING YOUR DREAMS INSPIRES PEOPLE. BE YOU. WHAT YOU DO DOESN’T MATTER."
It took me a while to learn that a career in administration was ‘helping’, to a degree, but not profoundly helpful. I wanted to be irreplaceable. Instead, I got made redundant – twice in the same year. That’s when I started Startled Squid Design Group. Why do I do what I do? Because life is too short to be anything other than inspiring. How am I inspiring? By doing what makes me happy. By living my art. By saying I expect nothing of you, other than for you to do the same. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, “…Just love. Just love what you’re doing. Love who you’re with. Make sure that you love where you’re living… Whatever the thing is that you love, you’ll start to sort of radiate this thing that people want to be near and it will make them better. And that’s the very kindest thing that you can do for your community”.
I want to help people. And I now know that I need to do that by following my heart and my passion. By not worrying if I’m the best or the first, but by giving it everything I have and allowing my happiness to fuel others if they choose to let it.