I am exhausted. Finally boarding my plane back to Atlanta, grateful to have an aisle seat on the over-booked flight. I sit down next to a 10 year old boy whose family is several rows back. "Hi," I say as I stuff my bag under the seat. "Hi," he says back, full of confidence. He pulls out his pencil and a huge book called "How to Draw Really Cool Stuff". He flips through a few pages. "You like to draw?" I asked. "Yes, I would show you but I left my drawings at home." he answered. "That's cool." I said, trying to sound hip. "I like to draw too", I tell him, "In fact, I just went to a conference for people who like to draw and design things for their job". "Wow, really?" he seems interested. "Yep, I make things for business people to use to let other people know about what they do." (Ever try explaining to a 10 year old what you do?) "Cool." he replied. For the next 20 minutes Adrian and I talked about what he likes to draw, his favorite subjects in school, and how he was going to spend the next month in Mexico visiting his family. It was a pleasant flight home.
But what a ride it was to get there! 3 days prior, after burning the midnight oil for a week, I launched my website, www.Korabelle.com.
It was (and still is) one of the scariest things I have ever done. But I was dead-set on getting that site done before heading out the next morning for the Creative Freelancers Conference in Chicago. I am a creative freelancer. Let me clarify, I am a wife and mother who used to be a graphic designer in my earlier career for an international non-profit, who quit to be a mom, who decided to go back to school to learn Adobe Creative Suite so I could calm the storm in my soul and begin a new chapter in my life by using my creative talents to help others pursue their goals and dreams. Yeah, that about sums it up.
I am proud of my website (even though I am already anxious to overhaul it!), I love my business cards (even though I left off my Twitter and Facebook tags!). But I could have thrown up at the thought of handing them out to hundreds of other creative freelancers that were attending the conference. What would they say? And would they say it to me? What would they think that they weren't saying? Of course, all of this just exemplifies my insecurities, and it should probably count for something that the few clients I have so far are pleased with what I've done for them.
But these were designers, surely they had better, bigger, fancier, slicker sites and cards than I do. What a waste to worry! And what a joy it was to meet so many other designers, both new and veterans, who were so welcoming, so open to new relationships and so willing to give support!
Two days of amazing speakers, motivation, advice, information, tips, tricks, and networking. I could fill 2 pages with the fantastic quotes I wrote down from the likes of Luke Mysse, Von Glitschka, Steve Gordon, and Dyana Valentine. I met people from my area, and people from across the United States that agreed to keep in touch until next year's conference. I heard things that made me feel really smart about some of the choices I have made so far in starting my freelancing business, and some that made me question myself entirely. But that's a good thing.
I don't know that I will ever feel worthy of the privilege of getting paid to be creative. It just feels likes playing so much of the time. I have no delusions that I will ever be amongst the greats any time soon, and that's okay with me. I like having people to look up to. But I am confident that I can work with people to create identities and marketing materials that help them achieve their goals. And well, that is more than enough for now, because I love what I am doing.
We all need a little affirmation once in a while. We all hold ourselves up to others for comparison, it keeps us honest, grounded and humble. When I de-boarded the plane I dug into my 2-ton suitcase, loaded down with swag and paper samples from the vendor reception, I pulled out the spiral bound blank journal from Finch paper and waited for Adrian to get off the plane with his family. I handed him the notebook. "Keep drawing, keep practicing, and have fun with your cousins in Mexico." He smiled and nodded, his brother and sister trying desperately to see what it was I had handed to their younger sibling. I hope that in some small way I inspired Adrian to follow his passion, as others have inspired me to pursue mine.
It was an adventure and an honor to attend my first Creative Freelancers Conference and I have so much to accomplish between now and next June. See you in Boston! (Save the dates: June 21-22, 2012)