Q: When you were in school, what was your vision for your career? Did it turn out like you thought? (What was your path like, career-wise, up to this point?)
A: I’ve lost count how many times I’ve changed my mind about what I want to do.
I was all over the place when I was going to Otis and was just so hungry to learn as much as I could. More than anything, I really wanted to learn how to academically draw and paint well. I felt that if I knew how to draw and paint, I could do anything.
I had three internships and a few freelance jobs working in print design, interior decorative painting, and production painting. In a lot of ways they were more valuable than my entire education, expanding my working network and also exposing me to how artists and designers made a living doing things that I liked in the real world.
By the time I was a senior, I almost felt like I wished I’d majored in Product Design instead of Illustration and Digital Media. I liked textile design and wanted to design objects for everyday use. I wanted to have my own line or company someday. Of course I had no idea how to break into a job like that.
My friend was an intern at Kelly Wearstler and asked me if I wanted to take over when he left. I got my first job straight out of school as a Product Designer working for her, designing fabric, wallpaper, home accessories, furniture, jewelry, and lighting.
It was a lucky break and has opened up so many doors. I still feel like I’m very much at the beginning. I’m still just following what interests me and trying to pay the bills.
Q: Did you think you would achieve so much by this time in your life? What are your next goals and dreams?
A: I’m grateful for my accomplishments, but there is still so much more that I want to do! Next year, my goal is to launch a fabric collection and dive into some other exciting collaborations and partnerships. I’d like to get back into product design and also start making some large scale experimental tapestries.
Q: Is there advice you would want to give to someone who wants to have a career in design like yours?
A: A career in art or design typically is not a straight path. I think a lot about the recipe of natural talent, hard work and luck in people who I admire or find successful. You have to take what you’re given and run with it. As cliched as it sounds, hard work can make up for a lot of short falls in talent or luck. Besides that, just being attuned to opportunities, developing a sense for what projects might open doors down the line.
Q: Is there a moment you can describe when you felt really great about your work?
A: I just launched a rug collection with Mehraban in October that was an incredible experience for me. It was a two year long project and standing there at my opening looking at all these people who believed in me and liked my work was so rewarding.
Q: How do you deal with the stress of freelancing?
A: Freelancing takes discipline. You have to find routines to keep you sane––daily, weekly, monthly. It’s really hard not to freak out or feel like a loser when things get slow.
It’s also easy to get caught up in trying to make as much money as possible like a squirrel collecting nuts, preparing for winter. With time, it gets easier to trust the ebb and flow of work. When it pours, learn how to set boundaries with clients. This was a great discovery: it is almost always ok to ask for an extension!!
But I am very active about nurturing my creativity. I always try to remind myself the reason I went freelance was to make time for my own art. Making time for that and holding yourself accountable is so hard to put into practice but so important! Also, it’s good for business. Anytime I’ve done a project just for myself, it’s always paid off by bringing in new opportunities.
Q: Words to live by?