Life Prior to A Mommy's Creative Binge
From as far back as I can remember, I've always disliked my hands. I disliked them so much so that I used to hide them within my sleeves, fingers curled, gripping tightly at the fabric. They aren't super feminine with perfect nail beds and nicely manicured nails. Honestly, I think they look pretty worked over most of the time - perhaps because they're always busy getting arsty. It took me a REALLY long time to accept them… and to finally LOVE them. I love them because they are my tools and I love what they create. And that, makes me happy.
When asked to describe myself, "creative" is always one (of several) words that come to mind. I feel lucky to come from creative roots. Growing up, drawings and paintings done by family used to adorn the walls around the house. I remember watching my mother, in pure amazement, drawing my portrait at the kitchen table one evening. Each day I went to school, a new little drawing awaited my surprise on the brown bag lunch my mother had packed for me. I remember watching my father draw when I asked for help with a project and could not believe how talented he was. And his incredibly unique handwriting he still has - it's art in itself. I remember sitting on the plastic covered, golden-brocade couch with my grandfather in his apartment in Queens as he doodled away telling me stories and making jokes. In my bedroom hang his drawings on handkerchiefs (sewn by his mother) that he made for his true love, my grandmother, "Lottie". And my great-uncle, a cartoonist for Hanna-Barbera, an Illustrator for Topps Baseball cards, and an incredible painter - although I never had the chance to meet him, I've seen his work and it's truly inspiring.
I'm not quite sure if creativity is coded into our DNA or if it's truly just inspired from our surroundings. Often enough I find inspiration and can name exactly what or who it is. But, many times, I'm not quite sure what particularly inspired me - something I always found difficult to explain when I had "real" creative jobs. I like to think there are little bits I pick up along the way and meld them with something inside myself.
Early Creative Binges & The Path to Today
Some of my earliest creative memories go back to when I broke my right arm at four years old. Being right-handed and very determined, my mother taped down paper on a table and I learned to use my left hand. Till this day, I occasionally find myself using my left hand for something I wouldn't expect, like drawing.
My mother taught me to sew at a pretty early age. She eventually let me use her sewing machine, which made way for so many more sewing projects… creativity with a quickness! Till this day my mother still talks about how I would always run upstairs with an idea before I was about to head out and I'd start sewing away. A new bag, pants, skirt or top… I got inspired and would whip up a new outfit or accessory. And all those crazy projects, both creating them and wearing them, made me happy. They still do.
Growing up I always had my hands in something. From play-doh to carving sticks, building with wood and nails, to sand and snow… if there was something in front of me, I'd play and create. I still find myself playing in sand as an adult, and with rocks, and especially doodling on napkins in restaurants and bars. My husband actually kept the very first napkin doodle I made with him when we first began dating.
When it came to school, art class was always my favorite subject. I can't remember a single class I didn't enjoy (unlike gym class). I did an independent study in high school where I focused on impressionism - biggest lesson learned: shadows can blue, or red, or just about any color. And skies, even though appear blue, have a vast array of colors. This taught me to look harder at everything.
Loving art so much, I wanted to go to art school. My parents wanted me to attend a liberal arts college. As much as it frustrated me, I understood. They only wanted better for me than they had for themselves. And how many times do you hear the word "starving" along with "artist"? I headed off to college as "Undecided" knowing that would only last me two years... MAX. I discovered the fashion design program at my college. I figured this was a good balance between my parents wishes and mine. With one year left to graduate, I changed my mind again. This time, it was Digital Media/Graphic Design. I eventually graduated two years later, with a LOT of credits, and with a degree.
I got my first job out of college as a Graphic Artist for a direct mail marketer of women's apparel. After about 3 years and learning that the term "starving artist" wasn't far from the truth, I landed an entry level job in marketing for a tradeshow and conference organizer. I thought this would be an opportunity to open doors for the future and still be creative in some way. After a promotion and working towards getting my MBA, I realized that marketing wasn't for me. I left that job and used my new found time to plan Justin and I's wedding while looking for a job that truly inspired me. A few months before our wedding, I was offered a freelance position at a bicycle manufacturing company. While freelancing there, a full time position opened up. I soon became the graphic designer for women's bicycles, responsible for color and graphics. It was a fun job, with lots of travel to some amazing places including Taiwan, China, Germany, Utah, Texas and California among other places. It was definitely an amazing feeling to work on physical product and then see it "out there in the wild". Although I enjoyed the job, I still occasionally felt frustrated… perhaps confined to only working on bicycle frames and mainly only on the computer. I love getting my hands into things, love touching and feeling and really using them - and the keyboard and mouse weren't really cutting it. While working there, I became pregnant and that's pretty much where A Mommy's Creative Binge began… I just hadn't known it yet.
In retrospect, I love every decision I've made because it has gotten me to this point. I feel incredibly lucky to be where I am today. I've learned that's there no point in trying to turn someone away from the direction they were meant to go… they'll just end up back there again no matter how many detours they take.