I was born creative, as we all are, but with a difference. I was drawn to it (excuse the pun). It was what made me happy. Not everyone needs to be born loving the arts or being creative, but for me it has always been a calling. Some if not most of you probably know what I’m talking about.
Society had a difference of opinion, from what I loved to what I could make a living at. After attending a bunch of prestigious schools and universities, and building a career I was proud of, I was left asking “what if?”
Dreamers ask that question a lot.
At the time, I chatted with a few people. They thought I envisioned a career change, moving away from my successes to do something different. I wasn't. I just didn't want to be a dreamer with a “what if?” scenario haunting me throughout my life. I wanted to be a Doer, to bring my dream to fruition. I had a great support system in my family that supported this dream chasing, and it eventually led me to SCAD.
SCAD did not just allow me to explore creativity across mediums; it forced me. Finally, I was given the creative play-dough I had been sorely missing. The faculty were phenomenal (Dominique and John, this goes out to you!), the education was top notch, the facilities and resources were amazing, and the work I produced here set me on the path to where I am today.
Like you, I donned my cap and gown and crossed this stage to get my degree, and what resonated most that day was the fact that this was just the beginning of my journey. I still remember Whoopi Goldberg standing on this very stage and telling me and my fellow graduates, “Sure you could try to go work at a bank, but I promise you that all of those checks that you’re looking at are going to have doodles on them. You’d be writing plays on the back of people’s contracts in the lawyer’s office because it’s just there. It’s in you.” And so I say, the world is waiting for you as it was for me. Don't deny that world one ounce of your creativity, and give yourself the chance to explore that world fully.
On the road I travelled, I created WeUsThem, a marketing, communications and public relations agency.
No. Wait. Let me call it what it really is.
WeUsThem is another dream.
We work with techies and businessy people alike, and our projects mean so much to us. We build such long lasting relationships that we like to say we don’t have clients – instead, we like to say they’re friends.
Our space is a child’s dream and a mother’s nightmare, pairing digital devices with oil and acrylics, clay and stone, canvas and tablets, all under one roof with a singular focus: to create. My time here at SCAD was a huge contributor to this dream being a reality.
In addition to my support system at home, I had good mentors. Mentors who believed in me, who pushed me to create and explore without judgment. I still have great mentors, but I now also have great mentees. As a teenager I was sure there would be no way people would ever look up to me, but height be damned, they do now!
I encourage you all to remember your SCAD mentors. Stay in touch with them. Look for others too, in every place you live and work. Find those who spark the brain cells that fight the logic centres and instead incite the creative, happy ones, to spurr great ideas and great work. People you can trust, people who will give you the right advice and provide you with a ladder to ascend the great heights you’re all destined for.
I was recently named Canada’s Most Powerful Woman in Arts and Communications. At our studio we always say, we are humble but not shy. I pass that on to you as you leave SCAD. Be humble, but not shy. Know your strengths and be your best ambassador, but do so with humility.
At this crucial moment in your life, you are limited only by your doubts and fuelled endlessly by your imagination. Make those dreams happen. Doers do and ask “what next?”
Which do you want to be? A dreamer or a doer?
Don't sit back, don't wait for it. Make it happen! You get out of things what you put into them, and if you give everything you’ve got, the rewards will be greater than you know. Take my word for it.
I remember a project here at SCAD where I incorporated Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken, a classic that I continue to use through life choices both professional and personal. As I peeked over the horizon at the time, as you are today, to what I had hoped would be my own future, it's only fitting to close off with his words: “I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Fellow creatists of 2015, find your unique paths and chart your own journeys. Make this life your own, and when you’re out there creating, look for me and look for each other as we continue our own unique journeys. This community of creatists will always be your home.
Good luck and congratulations!