“It used to make me feel ashamed to see how meandering and random my journey has been. But, looking back, I can see how one thing led to the next.”
When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being an artist, but my actual career path was very different. I sort of fell into working in the tourism industry, and spent my early twenties working my way up through the ranks to become Marketing Manager at a large hotel. After that, I bounced around for a bit doing various high-level marketing jobs, but I felt increasingly like a square peg in a round hole.
My story really begins back in 2008, when I walked out of both my career and my marriage within a few weeks of each other. I realised I had spent my whole life up to that point trying to fit in and do “the right thing,” and (unsurprisingly) it had made me thoroughly miserable.
I spent the next few years freelancing, determined to never have a “proper job” again. At first, I did random odd jobs of copywriting and admin. I even temped for a bit through an agency. But eventually the word got out to my network that I had a background in marketing and digital communications, so I ended up doing more and more of that sort of work.
I specialised in marketing for creatives and found that a large part of the job was mentoring and guiding them through various issues. In fact, my job ended up being more about coaching them than it was about marketing them! So I started offering creativity coaching on the side, and did that happily for a few years.
At the end of 2012, I suffered from an awful period of depression and ended up having to put my life and business on hold for a while. I decided that if I was going to be miserable, then I may as well be miserable doing something I loved. So I turned to art and writing and started a weekly blog of illustrated thank you letters called “The Gratitude Project.”
People loved it and it led to me getting some illustration commissions. I stopped doing marketing and concentrated on freelance illustration instead. I eventually self-published The Gratitude Project as a book, which led to some other book-related work projects such as editing, layouts and design, as well as helping people get started with self-publishing.
I actually didn’t enjoy freelancing as an illustrator – I’m not good at being creative to someone else’s specifications. So, in the summer of 2015, when I decided to move to Denmark, I finished up all my outstanding projects and decided to live off my savings whilst I figured out where to direct my creativity next.
Over the last couple of years I’ve developed a diverse range of income streams including digital products, print-on-demand products, ecourses, a tip jar and a few freelance gigs. I’d like to start doing some more coaching and mentoring work again next year, but that’s currently still very much at the idea stage.
It used to make me feel ashamed to see how meandering and random my journey has been. But, looking back, I can see how one thing led to the next, each iteration teaching me something valuable along the way. These days I feel like it’s actually a bit of a superpower to be able to explore new things and then discard them if they don’t work out. You never know how something will feel unless you try it, and I see my journey as an ongoing one. Constantly changing and evolving.
I’m not at my final destination yet and I don’t even know if there is one. But as long as I get to keep making art, I’ll be happy.