Merging Careers: Art & Science, hand-in-hand?


A blogger I follow published an article yesterday mentioning how July is half over already and its been a month since he last posted anything. I realized I haven’t published a new article since May! Well, if you’re interested, I’d like to explain why:

About a year to a year and a half ago I was living in an apartment with my boyfriend and another roommate. I was working crappy jobs, spending not nearly enough time on freelance work, and doing almost no creative projects just for myself. I was struggling with the idea of continuing on my path of shitty jobs to pay the bills, and finding time to pursue my freelance career as an artist, designer, and illustrator.

Let me backtrack to about seven years ago: I was graduating from high school in upstate New York — legit upstate, not just 20 miles north of the city, but I digress — I was top of my class and hating almost every minute of it (mostly dreading the idea of having to give a speech, plus other bs that was going on with the administration). I was the valedictorian and by the end of the school year, I had no intentions of going to college. As you can probably deduce, my focus in high school was fine art so, I did consider art school, but ultimately chose not to go for a myriad of reasons:

  1. I had my older brother, TJ, as an example to follow (sorry brotato, but you were the guinea pig). He went to a school in Boston for music technology and dropped out after a year because it wasn’t until after he was already down the rabbit hole, that he realized he hated it. One year. Over $30,000 in debt. No thanks.
  2. I already had a job that allowed me to explore my creativity in fashion design, graphic design, web design, embroidery, modeling, writing, photography, illustration, and plenty other creative outlets. I was basically going to school and getting paid for it.
  3. I wasn’t 100% certain it was worth it to get a degree in fine art since I was cocky and let myself believe that I was already really good and wouldn’t learn anything.
  4. I felt like I had something to prove and wanted to show people that I could take the “hard road” to success and succeed without a degree.
  5. I didn’t think the degree was worth the financial burden.
  6. I didn’t want to conform to what I considered society’s standard: to follow along with the crowd as one of The Man’s little marionettes, and being forced into a life as a puppet getting walked through the educational system to fetch my piece of paper that would, down the line, mean something to employers.
  7. I was bitter.

There were probably more reasons, but the gist of it is that I didn’t want to be rushed to a decision, and the more that people tell me I have to do something, the less I want to do it. Plus, I’m a thinker, a planner, a worrier, and probably, nay definitely, a little bit of a procrastinator. I wanted time to think about what I really want to spend the rest of my life doing and to this day, I still feel like 18, for most people, is too young to know the answer to such an important question.

At the same time, I reflect and find hypocrisy in my opinions (this is going to be a tangent, so bear with me). I hate the notion that we have to have very specific careers and learn very specific skills to do a job that contributes to a larger entity. People aren’t as well rounded as they used to be and seriously lack a lot of basic skills they should know, as humans, in order to survive. People don’t even know how to plant and garden for shit’s sake! If grocery stores just vanished, I can’t imagine how many people would just starve because they can’t sustain themselves. Anyway, the hypocrisy lies within my mindset of wanting to find that one thing I want to do for the rest of my life: If I want to do one thing, isn’t that limiting, and narrowing my path to well-roundedness? I’d like to think not since I intend to pursue art as well as a science and I have other hobbies too, but I kind of feel a little hypocritical.

So, fast forward to last year. I had a conversation with Ryan (my then boyfriend, now fiancé), about my career:job:life angst. He told me he understands my reasoning behind wanting to thoroughly consider careers before jumping into school and wasting my time and money; he too went into the work force right out of high school. He then told me that eventually I need to get off my ass and make a decision because I can’t sit around thinking about it forever.

At first, I was a little insulted, but it was very sound, logical advice and it really kicked me into high gear over the past year. Sometimes I just need a boot to the ass to get motivated.

While pondering careers, I was hired to do a sketch of a woman based only off of verbal descriptions, like forensic sketch artists do, and it got me thinking about how I’d like to maybe become a sketch artist for law enforcement. After some research, I discovered that job is primarily, though not always, left to someone within the force who already has artistic skills due to the liabilities involved in having a civilian interacting with witnesses and victims as well as the financial burden of hiring an independent contractor.

With that in mind, I considered what areas of police work I could see myself being involved in so I could get my foot in the door to becoming a sketch artist. I had been interested in forensics for a long time and decided to see what I’d be looking at career-wise, locally. I signed up for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Citizens’ Academy – a two month long class that walks citizens through various areas of the sheriff’s office, both lecture based and hands-on – and part of it involves a presentation by someone within the forensics department.

I very quickly learned that the jobs in my area are competitive and not very interesting: It would most likely involve finger print analysis or just collecting evidence. It’s possible other agencies nearby might have more interesting jobs, but after some consideration, I didn’t think I’d be able to handle the grotesque nature of the job. Aaaand just like that, two potential careers went out the windowIMG_5195.

I don’t remember exactly when, but I watched a few documentaries about nutrition, health, and obesity in America and it got me thinking about how much common sense people seem to lack in regards to eating right, and many peoples’ hypocrisy when it comes to not taking care of themselves then expecting someone else to pay their health sickcare bills. I thought back to when I was researching primary care physicians when I first moved to Oregon four years ago and how I ended up choosing a naturopath. What attracted me to my naturopath was her thorough examination into my health history and her genuine caring and interest in my health. Also, the fact that she is conscientious of my preferences and opinions of how I want to get healthier and doesn’t just prescribe pills right off the bat to cure everything (though she can if need be).IMG_2094

It clicked for me that nutrition is something I feel passionate about and enough so that I can definitively see myself making a career out of it. More IMG_3058-001research ensued and to make this long story a little shorter, I’ll just say that my goal is to become a Registered Dietitian and I will be attending Oregon State University in the Fall (finances and vehicle longevity permitting).

I still intend to pursue my art, and in an ideal world I will be able to combine the two in some way. I have ideas, I just need to keep chugging along, stop procrastinating, and just. Get. It. Done.

I’m working on — by working on, I mean it’s churning in my head — a series of phrases to help keep me focused and motivate me, that I want to turn into a series of illustrations or t-shirts or both. You can expect a transitional mish-mash in my blog topics that incorporate either or both art and nutrition and I hope you find all topics interesting and helpful.

One final note! An amazing coincidence happened this past year that I hope will help transition and merge my artistic career with a health and wellness career and I can’t wait to talk about it, but I have to wait until I get the go-ahead to do so. Yeah, that explains nothing. . . just stay tuned! It’s exciting!

An Artist’s Diary

Stack of Sara's SketchbooksSketchbooks are interesting to look through whether they’re old ones of mine or someone else’s. It’s captivating to see where my artistic skills were on a specific day, or recall what mood I was in, or why on one day I drew something that looked quite brilliant yet the next page contains something I could have drawn when I was five.

I find it astonishing how in many instances I can recall exactly where I was, who I was talking to, or what was going on around me while I was sketching. To me my sketchbooks are like coded diaries that utilize images rather than words to act as little flags in my memory to cause recollections. (Seems like a pretty crafty way to keep a diary’s contents safe and keep your mind sharp!)

So, why am I talking about sketchbooks? Well, I ran out of room in mine the other day and had to go out and buy a fresh one. Having crisp, new supplies is almost as satisfying as coming to that final page and seeing that I’ve developed my own little story book. I may not look through my sketchbooks for several months on end, but when I do I’m always left feeling accomplished knowing I have enough creativity to fill an entire book.

Sadly, I have not come to the end of a sketchbook in a long time. I have been neglecting to keep my skills sharp with diligent practice. Finishing this one reminded me not so much that I need to practice drawing (because forcing myself to do something when I don’t want to turns it into an unlikeable task), but instead it reminded me of the enjoyment I used to get out of sketching. I’d create something new almost daily, and I liked doing it. It was part of my day and I want to have that relationship with my sketchbook again.

You should flip through your old sketchbooks and see how much you remember about each day and why you were working on each sketch. It’s a time-sucker though so make sure you have at least an hour to kill! There are some drawings in mine that just make me laugh and laugh. . . I think you’ll find your own book to be a real page turner 🙂

My First Art Showing in Portland!

I can’t remember the last time my art was shown in a public place. The good news is, my art’s hermit streak is over!

Starting tomorrow night, I will have three pieces on display at the Back Door Theater in Portland. I kind of fell into this opportunity thanks to my man-friend, Ryan. He’s starring in a production about the struggles of injured Iraq veterans (a very suiting part for him since he is a veteran). The production company wants to infuse other art forms with each play they put on by providing a space for artists to display their work that relates to each play’s primary theme. In the case of this show, Costa Rehab, the theme is war, and war-related injuries.

Ryan asked me if this would be something I’d be interested in and I figured, why not?! For me it may be that step into the Portland art scene I need to take.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have much art related to war in my portfolio other than a cubistic painting of my cousin Ben in his dress blues that I painted during my freshman year in high school. However, I managed to create two other pieces in time. . .

If you happen to be in PDX from May 24th – June 23rd, you should watch the performance. Not only will you be able to enjoy a comedy that pays tribute to our war vets, you’ll be able to see Ryan perform, AND  you can view some of my art up-close – maybe even buy it!

You can find all the info you need about the location, dates, and time of the shows on the Costa Rehab facebook page, as well as the production company’s website – Book of Dreams. Just keep in mind that the show runs for an entire month and there are four performances each week so there are lots of opportunities to see this! (I’m saying there are no excuses NOT to go! 😉 )

I hope to see you on opening night!