As a child, I had enough connector pens, paint, puffy pens, and sidewalk chalk to open my own shop. My mum nurtured that side of me, filling school holidays with calligraphy worksheets and scrapbooking layouts. I truly loved the fact that as a creative, I could make something that didn’t exist yesterday.
Time continued as it does, and adolescent Jaz became more and more intertwined with the power of creativity. After school hours in the design lab eventually led to a three-year advanced diploma in graphic design after graduation.. I was never satisfied with just passing my subjects. For every hypothetical scenario I had to solve for my studies, I found real-life clients with similar needs. By the time I graduated, I was already working as a signwriter.
One of my lecturers was profoundly influential on me. He placed great importance on solving problems in the right way. I was taught to always look at the finish line and then map the project from the end to the beginning. This method means I can anticipate potential setbacks before they arise and create solutions accordingly.
Signwriting led to print room management, which then led to aged care marketing (sexy, I know). While I liked various aspects of each role, my hunger somehow wasn’t satisfied.
As many creatives end up doing, I took a hard detour in my career. The paint brushes were replaced with tap shoes and vocal warm-ups as I began a course in musical theatre.
I’ll be honest with you, this wasn’t an easy time for me. I was in the same classes as people who’d been singing and dancing their entire lives, and it destroyed my confidence. After a year of kick ball changes and ill-fitting ballet leotards, I ran back into the loving arms of graphic design.
Some might say I failed as a performer to become a freelancer, but I prefer to think that I learned how to perform for a client rather than an audition panel. For the next three years I danced to a different tune between creative studios, recruitment placements and freelance, tasting all the flavours of creative business and slowly building that confidence I had lost. Things were feeling back on track after way too long, I could feel it.
The next career stop was the one that truly changed the trajectory of my life.
I was employed in a studio that burned my soul to a crisp. I was smack bang in the middle of a truly toxic work environment with every classic trait; in-fighting between management, unrealistic expectations, shady deals, and a healthy dose of male toxicity. I probably should have detected that this wasn’t going to be my oasis when, during the second interview, they tried to reduce my prospective salary by $10k. Then there was the fact that the employees who played video games and then stayed back until 2:00am where the ones who got the applause.
This place didn’t deserve my genius, and I sure as hell wasn’t being paid fairly.