Series: "If I Knew Then..." #3 Chasing Hope

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The Excitement of Starting Out

When you’re starting out, specifically if you’re going from high school to college, then from college on to your career, it’s a rush! It’s dreams of the future, and all thoughts of success and how amazing your career is going to be. For years, you’ve been lulled by your own potential. You’ve hopefully had great teachers along the way who nurtured your aspirations and guided you, preparing you to actually become that great success.

Gradually, as your career progresses, your idea of success changes. As you reach milestones, you think of the next thing you want to achieve, or buy, or place you want to travel to. Your success meter responsively scales as you change and grow.

This is great, as you should always challenge yourself, but when outside influences come to play, it’s time to really take a look at yourself and see if your idea of success is truly yours.

The Great Los Angeles Success Ghost

I spent about 10 years in the Los Angeles entertainment industry as a designer. The work was great, and the learning experiences I had were priceless. What I noticed pretty early on was that there’s something in the air in Los Angeles (other than the smog and perpetual smell of jet fuel). It always seemed like success was right around the corner. It’s like there was someone peeking around the corner with a finger gesturing to follow, saying “your break is right around the corner! Come on, just a little bit further and you’ll be successful!” No matter what you achieve, that voice is calling you from right around the corner. It made me realize why even the most successful people still didn’t feel successful. The biggest stars in the world were still chasing hope.

I suppose it’s like that everywhere, but there was something about Los Angeles. I’ve talked with other artists and they experienced the same thing. It’s probably the concentration of celebrity culture. It’s glitz and glamour. It’s all smoke and mirrors, make-believe creating fantasy for the world’s escape.

Swept Up In Make-Believe

As artists, we get swept up in the make-believe. We are the ones who work to make the sad realities of life bearable through exciting fantasy, even if it’s just for an hour. Our job is to create an escape, whether it’s a painting in a gallery that begs a viewer to question and get lost in thought, or a movie that transports you to another dimension, or a song which can change your mood in a split second. We create illusions and it’s very hard to keep track of our own reality when our world is based in make-believe.

This theory may be especially true for those of us who work in marketing. Our job is to sell an illusion. We take people's pain points, twist the psychology, and present it in a beautiful and inviting way. How many times have you bought something off a store shelf just because of the packaging? I worked for a corporate agency and let me tell you, there's nothing sexy about insurance, yet you find the right font and imagery, and an ad tells a story that plays on people psyche. Don't even get me started on jingles...

We sit around with art friends pondering the nuances of life. We can get into politics and religion, but at our core, we have this hope, an “eyes wide-open” excitement, that is inherent in our souls, even if we happen to be the angsty brooding type. Artists are dreamers, just be sure you’re chasing your own dreams, not the hopes of others.

See ya tomorrow.

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