Monday, August 04, 2008

The Soul of it all

I got an interesting comment from "anonymous" in regards to my work website.

"Wow, nice site! I did think it ironic that you would have written about finding "soul" in your work when recently you posted about a negative comment you'd received. Where you were quite adamant your Soul was not put into your work, just your SMILE. You said you giggled at the thought of your soul in your work!

I see.

"but she couldn’t find the soul inside her projects."


This is in reference to my write-up in the "about" section of my website. This person has an interesting point! The comment made me think: What if I really AM putting my soul into my work? The answer I must say is "no." My "about" write up was not about putting MY soul in my work. It was about FINDING soul in my work. If you aren't a graphic designer, then I ask you to imagine what it might be like working on a brochure for attic ventilation components versus a wedding invitation. Which might be more fun? Which might get you excited to work on? I'm not saying one is better than the other. For ME, I PREFER the wedding design because it is fun to work on, it is something I enjoy and something I get a charge out of. That is what I meant by finding soul there. When you've spent years working on corporate projects at companies for people other than yourself...well...it gets political. It gets frustrating. People work 10-12 hour days for that attic ventilation brochure...you lose time with your family, you lose sleep. You get stressed. You get tired. You start wishing you could be making some sort of difference for someone else in a personal way. Now, I get to participate in happy events in other people's lives. There is a meaning for me...a satisfaction with my job I'd never had before. That satisfaction is what I called a "soul." I found my meat and potatoes.

I believe many people want to find soul in their work. A reason that makes it all worthwhile. Something that makes us get out of bed in the morning with a smile. This is why I encourage, if your "day job" doesn't do that for you, to find something you enjoy doing in your spare time. Whether it's cooking, bartending, sewing, crafting, painting, writing music, writing that screenplay, birdwatching, collecting things, hiking, acting, and on and on and on....there is something out there that makes life great for all of us. Some of us will put our soul into it and others will be happy just enjoying the moment.

This isn't all to say I don't put feeling behind what I do. Of COURSE there is feeling. It comes from within me. I LOVE what I do. But what I do, much of the time, is for a client. Not me. I cannot get attached to things. Much of what I design is at the request of others. It's great. That post before (the one my commenter is pointing out) was in response to criticism that a certain card I'd done was "almost soul-less." Notecards that I design for fun...for me. But again, I draw on the point that a card with 2 hippos and a palm tree is not a statement from my psyche. It's a notecard. A bird and a cage on a card is just an interesting layout of imagery to me. But they aren't my meaning of life...I didn't have a private message I was trying to send. Nor did I labor for hours and hours after a well-formulated plan and thesis.
In summary, it's nice to try and find the meat and potatoes behind what we do...it's nice to feel a purpose. And that's what the "about" write up meant to convey. I'm sure, there are going to come times when I do work that I put my soul into. But, the card that was criticized was not one of those things.

I invite anyone else to comment on what they wish they could do for a living if they could do anything in the world they wanted. What might you enjoy that might give you a sense of purpose as well? Or, go ahead and tell us about what you really do for a living now that might be your true bliss and brings you happiness or satisfaction.


4 comments:

Kathleen Corr said...

Well said, Megan, and you get at one of the basic truths about designing as a profession: it can be dangerous to put your "soul" into all of your work. You can still be dedicated, thoughtful, and passionate in all that you create, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice that little part of yourself for every client you create work for.. like you said, giving part of your soul away to a corporation only to have it be trampled on - turns out that's not inspiring! I believe something as sacred as your "soul" should be saved for your own creative purposes, for yourself, for the people who you want to give it to..

Anonymous said...

If I could do anything for a living it would definitely be nitpicking blogs. Talk about Chicken Soup for this Blog Reader's Soul!!

good thoughts said...

I think you hit the nail right on the head once again Meg! You have such grace when responding to these comments!!

Anonymous said...

Wowzah, I wouldn't touch the word soul with a ten foot poll. geesh!

I love your commentary! And the comments you received. Kathleen Corr you are a class act!