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Damn. Where do I start? At what point should I start? I just want to say first of all that pursuing a creative career is so damn hard, hella hard. WTF, why is it so hard, hard? Everyone and their moms appreciate art, a well written article and good design, but damn, why is it so tough for artists, creatives, writers, and designers to make a good steady living? I just feel like it’s a never ending battle, until... of course, you meet that one person that will give you a shot. See your potential, see the possibilities of growth if they decide to give you that shot.
I guess I should introduce myself, first huh? My name is Erica Pascual and I’m a visual designer, slash graphic artist, more or less, living in the Bay Area. Yup, the Bay.
I moved to the Bay Area two years ago to pursue a career in design. I worked for a government agency within the social services department for 4 years prior to making this move and after I studied Psychology in college.
So why did I leave such a steady career (sort of) to pursue a career that I may or may not thrive in? Honestly. When I started to hate waking up every morning to go to work. Literally, every morning I’d wake up and wish I didn’t wake up. It was THAT bad. I didn’t feel fulfilled, I didn’t feel like I was making any positive difference in society. I was just simply going through the motions day by day, and I hated it. I wanted something different.
I started dabbling in design at the age of 15. At that time I was using Photoshop and even Paint (leave me alone, it was the early 2000s). I was introduced to this craft by my computer arts teacher during my sophomore year of high school. She was basically the person who introduced me to a career in “graphic design.” After putting together type and photography for a few projects, sketching a few portraits, I told myself at 15 I wanted to be a Graphic Designer.
Unfortunately, design school is expensive. My senior year of high school, my dad took me to a few open houses of design schools in Southern California. At the very end, you get that meeting with an advisor and they hand you the paper that told you how much 4 years of art school is gonna cost, including all the supplies you’d need to be successful. Even as a young 17-year-old, I knew that was not possible, unattainable, and honestly, who the hell has all that money to put into higher education?
Luckily, I wasn’t too attached to the dream (or so I thought). So I let it go. I got accepted to almost every college and university I applied to. However, being the Filipino-American immigrant that I am... I stayed at home. I attended San Diego State for a year and flunked during my second semester. HARD. None of the courses interested me and none of them made a dent in changing my opinion about them. A few junior colleges later, I transferred to a private uni and studied Psychology. Human behavior was the only relevant subject I knew would be beneficial not only career wise but also my lifestyle.
But I digress, after 4 years of working full time in my early 20s in a field I realized I didn’t see myself growing in, I started to joke around that I’m going to quit my job and move to the Bay and be an artist. It started off as an idea which became something I started to prepare for. I enrolled to a design school in the Bay, packed my bags and left. Other than a few design classes, I didn’t really have anything in the Bay that will sustain me. I didn’t have a place to stay, no family, no friends, no job to go to. Even with all that I was lacking after I moved, I didn’t feel like it was a dead end nor did I feel like it was hopeless.
Why? Because it sure as hell was better than waking up every morning hating what you do for living and I sure as hell was determined to make this shit work. It was a now or never type of decision I made for myself. Do this now or not at all because I was getting closer to my 30's and I might as well do it now while I still have the energy to do so.
So you grind. And honestly, its true, when you’re driven to get something, to achieve a goal.. No matter what bs you’re currently in, it doesn’t feel as though its for nothing. Don’t get me wrong, there were times where I felt discouraged with making this career change and a few cry sessions here and there asking whether or not it's worth the struggle.
But hey, after you get over all the emotions, you start to realize that there’s really no other way to go through in life other than pursuing and pushing yourself to reach your full potential and ultimately your purpose. I can say that leaving home and what I was used to was probably the best decision I’ve made because if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have met the person I am today. Being in a creative space and career is what fills me up and truly makes me happy and I’m glad I found that out sooner rather than later.
When you think about it, why are we really here? What are we really meant to do? To be? Who knows? I think it takes a lot of risk to figure that out but taking that first step is key. The biggest reward you'll receive is finding your purpose.