Living the Dream

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Our dreams give us something to strive for, a direction. Where dream jobs are concerned, I have unfortunately formulated a very specific vision of what I want the next 50 years to look like. My dream starts out with obtaining an MFA in graphic design. After this I would love to be hired at a large graphic design firm such as Landor or Pentagram. The next stage in my dream is to move from working at a graphic design firm to working at a tattoo shop. From there, I would follow in the footsteps of the tattoo artists that inspire me such as Colin Dale, Sean Parry, and Peter Madsen. The set, plan-like nature of my dreams unnerve me. I am aware that any multitude of things could happen that could send me off in another direction. Furthermore, I do not want to become stuck in my dream-plan when a once in a lifetime opportunity comes around. However, my dream jobs remain being a graphic designer and then a Neo-Nordic tattoo artist.

In the profession of graphic design there are generally three types of employment settings: in-house, freelance, and the firm or agency. My internship over the past summer has led me to want to be employed by a graphic design firm. My internship was in-house, at a small nonprofit. Within the whole of the staff of about 10-15 people, there was one graphic designer and a video editor who was a graphic artist on the side. Also, the one graphic designer only worked 3 days out of the week. This was all well and good, but when you throw in a boss who is not willing to listen to your ideas and knows very little about graphic design, things do not go very well. Thus, to avoid infuriating situations where one can be controlled and micromanaged by overlords who do not know graphic design, I have decided in-house work should be a last resort. Due to the hit or miss nature of freelance work, and the lack of feedback opportunities, I would much rather work in a community of graphic designers where I have a semi-consistent source of income.

Work by Colin Dale

Phase three of the plan and the end of the dream is becoming a tattoo artist. This part of the plan is fraught with troubles and it takes a long time to become proficient at tattooing. It seems an industry standard to obtain an apprenticeship before one can become a tattoo artist. As with graphic design, one has to be very well known in order for people to want your specific style. Until the graphic designer or tattoo artist reaches that point they must kowtow to the client’s stylistic wishes. Also, in most tattoo parlors, the artists are independent contractors or “self-employed”. In other words, the owner of the shop allows you to use the space in return for some of what the client pays you. Being a tattoo artist seems to be a long and hard road.

Dreams are important and a part of who we are as humans. I think that there is nothing wrong with planning ahead for the future or dreaming. However, if one believes all their dreams will simply come to pass, they are in for a surprise. Achieving one’s dreams takes dedication. The dreams I have are plans that are not set in stone. If a large graphic design firm does not hire me, I will take some other type of employment, even an in-house job. I will at least try to obtain an apprenticeship either when I am in graduate school or when I graduate from grad school (assuming those things happen). In the end, accomplishing my loose plans for the future are secondary to doing my best.

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