Working or Playing? Choosing a Career that Blurs the Lines.

Am I working or playing? Professions in art, design, and architecture blur that line.

In high school, students are put on an early career path designed to guide them towards an acceptable future. Throughout the years their strengths and abilities are defined for them by a myriad of tests and assessments. By the final year of high school, that path has been fine-tuned and presented with certainty. When I went through this process, I questioned this system. My assigned career paths did not include what I was meant to do; art – I wanted to be a painter. I rejected what I was told and, although initially hesitant, my parents and teachers gave me their support.  By graduation I had dedicated myself to a full-fledged career doing what I love. I put myself on a path of my own design – a working (not starving) artist.

After some years of being a painter I found myself asking the question, “Am I working or playing?” In my mind these were two completely different, incompatible concepts. But working as an artist I experienced the impossible, a marriage of work and play. I struggled to make sense of this. How could I be doing both? Is being an adult and working supposed to be fun?  I had been taught that work was a function of purpose. You punch in your hours, come home, relax and do it all again the next day. Never had I seen adults excited by their work, up all night and into the early hours of the morning. But there I was, doing just that.

My journey as an artist never stopped.  After 5 years supporting myself as a painter, I decided to explore a career in interior design. Ohio State University had been the alma mater of much of my family, so the decision to move to the city of Columbus was one rooted in the value of a community that shaped the people closest to me. Choosing an internship and eventually a full-time position was no different. I found a home at Triad, a design firm with like-minded individuals. Together we are a collective of artists, designers, architects, and engineers. We embrace the joining of work and play.

To this day I find myself working into the night, losing track of time. I wake up with excitement, ready to continue doing what I love – however, I no longer ask myself if I am working or playing. I am simply doing both.