Finding My Passion
2016 was a year of a lot of changes, big and small. My husband and I moved, I opened my Etsy shop, I started my blog, I became the youth director at my church and then it was only June 1st. Within 6 months, my whole career path was completely different. On the other hand though, I can see looking back that my path to this soloprenuer career wasn't as winding as it seemed. So this week I am diving into my creative history, finding my passion, and what brought me to where I am today. Enjoy!
My Creative Journey
Since I was little, I have wanted to be an artist. I took dance classes for a couple of years, but ultimately landed on doing art. I started taking art lessons outside of school because the art class at school just wasn't enough. Anything artsy or crafty, I loved. I would get the craft subscription boxes from the book fairs, different craft and drawing books for my birthday and Christmas. I just loved creating.
Graphic design wasn't really a term in my vocabulary until junior high when I was on the yearbook staff. I got my first taste of Adobe InDesign and it hooked me. I remember having to figure out how to make text into outlines so I could put pictures inside the letters. Through working on the yearbook in junior high and high school, I got to work with InDesign and Photoshop a ton. I loved it so much.
Once I was in high school, my life was pretty much centered around marching band. But I did find ways to continue working on my design skills. My high school has an independent study class that you can take as a junior or senior, so I decided to take it my senior year. We had the whole year to come up with, plan, and implement a project of our choice and I decided to design my own magazine. Since I was also a band nerd, my magazine was all about marching band. I designed 2 different issues each with its own cover art, stories, and pictures. Creating the magazine taught me so much from about design and my design style. It also solidified that I wanted to pursue graphic design in college.
Texas A&M University
Both my parents are Aggies so I grew up around Texas A&M. When I was first looking at colleges, I toured many other schools with great graphic design programs, but was determined that A&M was where I was supposed to go. But A&M doesn't have a graphic design degree. I considered majoring in journalism since that still involves layout and design, but then we stumbled upon the Visualization major tucked away in the College of Architecture. In 2013, I graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Visualization, which basically covers graphic design, game design, animation, and anything in between. While I love watching and understanding animation, it was much more technical than artsy, so I stayed focused on graphic design. But I did get some experience with 3D animation, you can check out my animation on Vimeo.
During the summer after my freshman year, I got a job at a small on-demand book publishing company. While I loved working there, the work I was doing wasn’t creatively fulfilling. I started looking for something different and found a web design company looking to hire a designer. I started working for them designing websites in Photoshop. Once I graduated, I moved to working there full time, but again I started having the feeling that this wasn’t going to satisfy me creatively. And now that school was over, I didn’t have school projects to work on when I wasn’t at work. So I started to create my own. I didn't refer to them at the time as passion projects but that is definitely what they would be called now
My first assignment to myself was for a series of posters illustrating the different couples from the TV show, How I Met Your Mother. Each character in the show had an object that was easily associated with them so I illustrated those items and then found quotes from the show to help explain the objects or show the couple’s story. You can check out those posters on Etsy or Society6.
Through working on these illustrations, I initiated my love for Adobe Illustrator. I hadn’t worked much in Illustrator other than for a few projects in college, but now I pretty much always have Illustrator open on my computer. As I tried to figure out what style and medium I wanted to work in, I found my way back to handlettering. I started following other hand lettering artists and discovered Risa Rodil, who is one of my main inspirations, as well as Jessica Hische and Mary Kate McDevitt. I loved the colorfulness and style of Risa’s work so I decided to try my hand at digital lettering.
The first quote I decided to letter is a great quote from The Big Bang Theory: “There is only one cookie with something in the middle that solves life's problems and that's an Oreo, or a Nutter Butter if you're in a pinch." Gotta love Sheldon! Check out this quote print on Etsy or Society6. I learned a lot of how to work in Illustrator doing this poster and looking back at it now, I can see it is a little rough compared to my work now. But it is also cool to see the progress I have made in my skills.
Now that I had found something that was creatively fulfilling, I wanted a way to share my work so others could share in my passion. So I opened a Society6 shop. As I was inspired by quotes or ideas, I would add new lettered designs to my shop.
A Big Change
Fast forward to the summer of 2015. I worked for the web design company from home since I had gotten married and moved with my husband. I would work on my Society6 shop in my free time. But then I was suddenly laid off. It came as a surprise but probably pushed me in the direction that I had been afraid to pursue. It gave me the opportunity to really figure out what I wanted to do.
I started looking for new jobs, but tried to be picky in what I applied for. I wanted this job to be something I loved. But I never heard from any of the jobs I applied to. While I was disappointed, I soon learned that my husband was getting moved by his company and we were moving again. If I had gotten any of the jobs I had applied for, I would have had to quit soon after I started. It was a blessing in disguise to not hear from any of those jobs.
After some looking around online, I stumbled upon Michelle Hickey of Elegance & Enchantment. She sold digital versions of her designs on Etsy so she didn’t have to deal with printing or shipping. Seemed like a great way to start. Plus I had a growing collection of designs that I could sell as printables on Etsy. So in January of 2016, I opened my Etsy shop, calling it Raye Allison Creations, full of my lettered printables. A few months later, I started my blog as a way to support my Etsy shop and hopefully bring some traffic and eyes to my work. Each week I design a new free printable, which I call Printable Creations, that I send to my subscribers. After a week, they are then added to my Etsy shop.
My journey has been full of ups and downs, but I love where I have ended up. I get to do what I love everyday and share it with the world. I get to love “going to work” (or walking from my bedroom to the office in my apartment). I get to work in Illustrator all day every day. I get to shine some light into the world through encouraging and colorful work. I have the best job in the world.
What was your journey to find your passion? Let me know below!
Want to read more about why I do what I do? Check my post about defining my why.