“Go for it” - sometimes the right word at the right moment can change a life.
I was fortunate to grow up in a very loving family, we had very limited means but we got by. Since I was young I always had this urge to create, it was a mechanism for survival at first as I dealt with the onslaught of bullies at school, it allowed me to exit the harsh real world and enter a reality of reason and enlightenment.

Something happened at school and I began to spark, I created like there was no tomorrow, painting, drawing, sketching, doodling, even getting myself into trouble in lessons as I doodled due to the discomfort I felt in class. My teachers met my uniqueness with disdain as I simply did not fit in with the established dynamic of what was perceived as an ideal student - I asked a lot of questions, I had ideas, I thought differently but I was made to feel inadequate and unwanted, despite me performing well in all lessons outside of art, it was clear that what I was, I was something not wanted and back then I could not understand why.

That is when I met my art teacher, straight away she knew me, I told her what was going on and despite her trying to help, the head teacher saw bullying as ‘part of the school experience’ as my pleas were never taken seriously. She opened up the school art club which I was the only member for 2 years, she would not admit it but I believed that part of the reason the club was opened was to give me a safe space from the situation at the time. In that time she helped me to tap into what I had, seeing it was more than just art I was transcending. Each project I proposed she kicked off with “Go for it”, and that was the only positive influence I had isolating from a pool of ridicule. I used that and began to discover I was far from the ‘weird kid’ they often labelled me as.

Me during university, ready to venture out into the world.

From that point, I finished school and started college, where I blossomed thanks to a teachers positive mindset and the fact I could focus on one area of expertise, who knows what would of happened to me if I had not met that teacher back at school. Soon after I reached university and upon graduation I was ready for the working world.

That was where I learned my second lesson, people like me from my background don’t become designers, apparently we’re only supposed to get ‘real jobs’ - whatever that means. It took me a long time, with many interviews I found I was not getting anywhere, I knew this was normal as you needed experience to be a designer but of course needed a job for experience - the classic paradox. I saw interviewers be intrigued by my work and then watched their face fizzle out when they saw where I came from, I didn't question it at first but by the 60th interview I began to piece thing together, yes the competition was high but there clearly was an 'elephant in the room'. One interview, I asked why they weren't interested, and it all revealed itself in this quote “people like you don’t become designers” - that’s where I began to learn about the archaic class system.

That was the second phase that spurred me on - my mindset that fuelled my energy was "why should where I come from have any bearing on my future?", so I tried even harder, studied more, worked many part time jobs to fund my courses and improved my technique until just one person finally saw me for who I am, I achieved my first design job, from there my experience was built over my past then my work spoke for itself - I always knew the bullies and teachers were wrong but to see it materialise at that moment powered me on throughout my career to today.

Since then I have had a goal to spread a message, being the 'Patch Adams' of design. Design (and any career) is not limited to class or any background. If you have the right mindset, the skills and talent, the world is open to you - this is how I wish to challenge the archaic views still present today. And with that galvanising worldview, whole worlds will open up to you and offer a level of happiness not known before.

Thanks for reading.

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