“As soon as it’s in Vogue, it’s over,” my professor stated flatly as we stood on a noisy corner in the heart of New York City’s fashion district. “What?” I thought, as his words began to sink in, “How can something brand new be ‘over’, just because someone wrote about it in a magazine? How incredibly wasteful.”
I was nineteen, and I was in the city as part of a field trip for a college program in fashion design. I had started out passionate, ready to bring my creative talents and aesthetic sensibility to the fun and exciting world of fashion.
As I learned more about the industry, I began to question what it was really about and whether I could be truly happy in this field. When my professor made his dispassionate declaration on that grimy corner in Manhattan, I knew that what was really “over” was my career in fashion design.
This was not the first time I had encountered disposability culture and it certainly was not the last. It was, however, a stark moment of realization for me about the kind of culture I was living in and the kind of work I wanted to do in the world.
I was somewhat naive at age nineteen, but even then I knew that I didn’t want to be on some hamster wheel of production, consumption, and disposal for the rest of my life.
I wasn’t about to give my artistic talents to an industry that would toss out anything I made the second someone wrote about it in Vogue (which by the way, is supposed to be a mark of “success” for a designer). I wanted to create something real, lasting, and meaningful.
Sixteen years later, I am grateful for the lessons that my professor’s words illuminated. My search for meaningful work has taken me on a long and winding journey, from studying history and visual culture at UC Santa Cruz, to a decade-long career as an educator, to eventually leaving it all behind to start my own creative business.
I have become convinced that the only way to live in new paradigms is to create them. I don’t want to live in a culture of disposability and overwork. I want to live in a culture that values life, pleasure, and wellness. I want to live in a culture that recognizes the creative genius inside of all of us and gives it lots of encouragement and room to grow.
That is why I am here, writing this, now. I believe in our collective creative dreams and their power to change the world. I believe that we deserve better than broken systems, outdated paradigms, and cultures disposability. I believe that we can create wild magic in our lives, and that our magic can ripple out in infinite and unfathomable ways.
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