How 5 Creative Directors Got Their Start
Whether you're the next Picasso or can barely hold a paintbrush, if you're interested in a creative career, your options are endless. From creating your own fine art to curating a gallery to designing product packing, you'll get the satisfaction of watching your visions come to life.
And if you haven't been in art classes since you were a toddler, don't worry. While some creative professionals have been painting since they could stand up in front of their pint-size easels, others developed a passion for art and design much later in life. But wherever you fall in that spectrum, it all comes down to a passion for creativity.
To learn more, we chatted with five professionals about their backgrounds and what brought them to their art- and design-related gigs.
Director, Design Services, TED
"I had a very brief—but committed—time period when I knew I would be an NBA star," Mike recalls. "That did not happen—but probably for the best." Instead, he chose to study film production and screenwriting, then promptly moved into a career that had nothing to do with either.
After doing some freelance photo editing and book publishing work, he spotted an ad for a job at TED. He'd seen a few TED talks and knew that this was a job he could be proud of, so he jumped on board.
Now, as the Director of Design Services, Mike has his hands in all things creative. "I get to play with art all day," he shares. Whether he's developing printed materials or working on-site in the "media cave" at TED conferences, he makes sure that everything about the brand is visually compelling.
Art Director, Lumosity
Following in the footsteps of her musically and artistically inclined family, Erika always dreamed of being an artist. At age four, she was painting with her grandmother; at 12, she visited the animators' studio at Disney World, where she told herself, "That's exactly what I want to do when I grow up."
And while her pre-teen self was certain she'd go into film, she actually found herself drawn to games. In fact, by the time she joined Lumosity, Erika had 10 years of animation and art direction experience under her belt. Hired as the company's Art Director, she now oversees the development of both mobile and web games—all of which help users strengthen their minds.
"I'm making games that help people," Erika shares, "and it feels really good."
Creative Director, Artsicle
Dan can distinctly remember wanting to be a firefighter when he was younger. "I also wanted to be the President at one point," he adds. Leaning toward the political career choice, he studied International Politics and Economics. After a brief stint in political consulting, he moved to New York to fight environmental crimes as a paralegal—even entertaining the idea of law school.
But as he spent more time in his new home city, he couldn't help but get immersed in both the art and startup scenes. Then, when he heard about Artisicle, which combined these two newfound passions, "it all just kind of made sense."
In his gig as Creative Director, he oversees marketing initiatives, as well as all the creative content on the website. On top of that, he oversees artist recruitment, onboarding, and site visits—essentially, helping new and experienced artists grow in their careers.
Director of Jen Bekman Gallery, 20x200
Jeffrey wanted to be an artist himself, but while he was finishing up his degree in Boston, he made a trip to New York that changed everything. There, he met artist Jen Bekman—simply on the street, of all places—who eventually offered him an internship.
As he worked with her to open her gallery, he realized how much he enjoyed working on the other side of the creative process: Instead of creating the art himself, he loved helping other artists cultivate their talent and develop their projects.
Now, he works with all Jen Bekman Gallery artists, helping them complete their exhibitions, then connecting them with art collectors to make sure they find the best pieces of art for their homes.
Arts & Craft Designer, Method
Growing up, Mia was always considered herself a little "weird"—like when she wrote a satirical re-telling of The Frog Prince in fourth grade, complete with fully-colored illustrations. But when she found her current position at Method (and was encouraged to proudly display her elementary school publication on her desk), she knew she'd found a home for her unique talents and personality.
At Method, Mia works on everything that has to do with packaging and design, working closely with product developers to collaborate on the finished product. This year, she's even been charged with of putting the company's brand standards into words (i.e., "what makes Method as fun and weird as possible") through style guides.
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