Mixing Work + Play

As an artist, I create things and try to make boring, informational subjects pleasing to the eye. Maybe what I do isn’t National Medal of Arts worthy, but I try to make every project inspiring to the best of my ability.


When I was younger, I thought as rationally as I could about my future. I tried not to get overly excited about what my occupation would be one day, but in the end, every kid dreams. And my dream was clear: I wanted to be an artist, and to have the satisfaction of making something with my hands.


I started college with big dreams of becoming atop National Geographic photographer who changed the world, but my desires shifted. I discovered graphic design around my sophomore year, and what a beautiful discovery it was. I loved it! It was quick, I was far better at it than drawing, and I could mass-produce my art if need-be. I was finally, officially an artist!


The majority of my contact with graphic design was leisure. I did it when I felt like it, and the outcome was typically good due to the fact that I was “in the mood” to design. It was an escape… a place where I could unwind and create something.


So I thought to myself, “Why not make this into a profession?” And I did! I sought out side-jobs in school and grew in skill and speed enough to make it a full-time gig. I was hired on at The Alderman Group, and the world was well. I had my dream job!


But there’s where I missed it… it was a job. To me, a dream job seemed like all play with a tiny bit of professionalism sprinkled here and there. But deadlines made my creativity feel forced. The sense of “leisure” that I used to feel when designing slowly deteriorated.


But with the help of mentors, I figured out a process to reenergize my love of graphic design. Instead of letting deadlines make me feel anxious, I used the time I am given to pace my design work. I schedule time to image, and dream, and play with the design. Though facing deadlines head on sounded like a daunting task at first (and discipline is not one of my strongest attributes), I found that it worked. I needed to find my way back to creating art, and the new process worked. The pressure subsided (for the most part), and I was able to create again.


If you’ve found something that you love—or even better, something you love that brings you profit—there is sometimes a very thin line that marks the boundaries between work and play. You have to learn how to manipulate that line and use it to your advantage. Stare it down and figure it out before it brings you any anxiety. Make work your play!


Zeke, Lead Graphic Designer