When I tell some people about the careers I’ve had: I was a Fine Arts major, a screenwriter, an indie film producer, and an advertising agency producer (being a waitress for two weeks at UNO’s pizza in D.C. doesn’t count) before I was a writer/blogger and marketer – they either don’t believe me, or think I’m weird.
They have a hard time figuring out how all of these things fit sequentially on a single path (even though all endeavors can be classified as “arts and entertainment.”) And they’re right. Looking back, there does appear to be a lot of movement, or new starts, but at the time, the transitions didn’t feel abrupt at all.
I applied to the Fine Arts school of my University because I loved to draw and paint, and that was where I met my future ex-husband, who was an artist too. After college, he continued to paint, and then direct films. I admired his talent, and encouraged him to continue, and he inhabited the role of the “artist” whereas I became the producer, the facilitator of his talents and the executor of his vision. For a significant time period, this was a fruitful and gratifying dynamic. I didn’t feel the need to be an artist anymore, and was comfortable with my creative spirit lying fallow.
And then I couldn’t find it anymore (although no doubt writing is a potent form of creative expression).
I abandoned writing and making movies, and didn’t feel the desire to create art anymore. I became fully entrenched in the business that is advertising. And while there are irrefutably many creative people in advertising, we are ultimately at the mercy of our client’s specifications to sell a product.
Six months ago I got another job, as the Director of Marketing for a production company. I didn’t change industries, since its still advertising, but it was decidedly a career change in that the skill set is different than those I previously employed. I’m not creating characters or plots for stories, nor am I overseeing budgets and schedules for productions. I’m networking, entertaining clients, and the wonderful by product of it all is that I’m making new and interesting friends. And I’m promoting directors, talented artists in their own right, a role in which I feel comfortable, as it emulates the productive dynamic I had with my ex-husband.
And then I had an idea (and when Cougel has an idea, case in point, this blog, look out!).
Why do artists that work in advertising have to remain closeted?
I decided to have an art show at my office (an artist’s style loft) for artists in advertising. A coming out party! It began with a vague sense that there were others out there like me, although very few people came to mind, and as I started reaching out to other producers, art directors, and copywriters, the response was overwhelming. And moving. The influx of passion and enthusiasm – not to mention the scope of talent – that exists hidden behind corporate doors, was staggering.
I began planning this about three weeks ago, and since then, I don’t think I’ve been in a bad mood once. Even while PMS-ing, or without a boyfriend or any viable “future husband” potential on the horizon, I’ve been excited, inspired, and well… happy. I had dinner with an old friend last week, who fifteen minutes into the conversation, responded to something positive I said with, “Who are you?”
I didn’t answer him aloud, but in my mind, I think I might have uttered something like, “Me.”
Perhaps it is because all of these seemingly disparate passions intersected at the right time, at the right place, awakening that creative spirit I thought I had left in the dust ten years ago. Somehow, all the jobs I’ve had, the people I’ve met, and the experiences that masqueraded as pit stops, culminated into the promising path I am on now.
So I guess there is no such thing as a detour after all. It all depends on where those pit stops take you.