The last 3 months have been a crazy ride for me, and I've been wanting to write a post to sum up what's been going on lately.
On November 5th, 2013 I got an email that would completely flip my world upside down.
Back in April I applied for a position at an apparel design company
located in NYC. After months of no response I had concluded that it was
another fail to add to the pile. But come November, while I was at my
part-time cashier job I got the email asking to come in for an
interview. As someone whose had his eye on NYC since I graduated a few years back, I immediately said yes and setup an appointment for 2 days
I was terrified.
I had no experience designing clothes, and not
much experience using Illustrator (one of the main programs used at the
job) and I had no apparel portfolio. I spent the day before the
interview working up a tshirt portfolio from scratch, hoping that what I
came up with was anything close to what they wanted to see. I already
knew 2 people at the job working in other departments so I had some help
figuring out what to do, but there was still a lot of guessing involved. I wrapped
up the portfolio and the next day I took an early bus from Philadelphia
The interview went pretty bad.
Everything in my "portfolio" was pretty much deemed useless, and
"rushed" (rightfully so) and there was a point where I just knew in my
mind that getting this job was a lost cause. I felt
defeated. But luckily I had one of my postcards on me, featuring my
Beastermaster paintings. The guy interviewing me pointed to it and told me
how this work is the whole reason he brought me in for the interview. He said
I had a really solid understanding of composition, and that was mainly
what the job requires. He then showed me examples of actual shirts the
company had produced and everything started to click. I now understood
exactly what I needed to do because I was staring at pages of perfect
examples. I threw away my doubts and asked for a second chance. Now that
I knew what to do I knew I could make a much better portfolio. Would it
be good enough to get me the job? I had no idea. But what I did know was
that it would give a much more realistic idea of what I was able to
handle. I was given the chance. He explained how the process worked and
he offered to send me some resources to use in my new samples.
The bus ride back home I was dealing with a whirlwind of emotions:
excitement, fear, doubt, worry, anxiety, stress, hopefulness, you see where this is going. I immediately went to work
on the new samples in between my work schedule. In about a week I had 3
brand new, really solid samples that I felt good about, and my connections who
worked at the company were both giving me a lot of helpful feedback, though I was
struggling with teaching myself how to use Illustrator and was getting
very frustrated. I submitted the samples and held my breath for a few days. I got
feedback asking for pretty heavy revisions on the designs, being told I
wasn't required to do them but that if it were a day in the job he would
ask for the changes. I was getting more anxious, but I wasn't ready to
give up. I pressed on and submitted each revision and got an email
thanking me for putting in the effort, and that they should be able to
get back to me with their decision in a few days.
The wait was torture.
I did everything I possibly could to keep my mind off the outcome but it wasn't an easy thing to do. Then, *insert aol email chime*...I got
the email and my fate was sealed...
I got the job.
And everything was great from there on right? ...if only
At the time I was living in my parents basement in Philadelphia, and now
had 3 weeks to find a place to live AND move into it, AND had to finish
up my final 2 weeks of work at the current job, which ate up a lot of
my time AND had a major freelance project to finish up. Oh yeah, and Thanksgiving happened. I had never gone apartment hunting
before, nor live in NYC before so I had a lot of stuff to figure out. I
reached out to everyone I could, my network of artists, friends from
school and anyone willing to lend a hand. I was completely overwhelmed
and getting more and more frightened that I wouldn't be able to find a
place in time with each passing day. I knew it could only be so long that the
company could wait for me before I lost the job. My level of
stress was only matched by the overwhelming amount of gratefulness I
felt due to all of the people who were lending me a hand. People from
everywhere were doing whatever they could to ask around and help me find
a place and figure out how to get my stuff there, how to figure out my
price range, everything. This combined with searching Craigslist ads and
looking everywhere I could think, I really felt like I was doing
everything I could. And it still wasn't coming together.
My time was running out and I became more and more upset at my situation
and I was more emotionally exhausted than I had ever been in my life.
With only days away from my start date I was losing hope. But then the
heavens opened and a few more helping hands reached out and caught me.
There was a moment when I knew everything would be ok, and that no matter
what, I would be living in NYC on the exact day I wanted to start and
everything would be figured out from there.
Since my move to the city I've had a lot of ups and downs, getting used
to all the newness to everything, but I can definitely say it's all
worth it. It's been a massive challenge but within the span of 2 months I
was able to teach myself the basics of a new program, work up a new
portfolio from scratch, visit NYC for an interview, do another handful
of samples, get the job, find a place to live in NYC, pack-up my life,
move-in, and start my job and it's something I'm immensely proud of.
It's finally time for me to start taking care of myself and be an adult.
I still have a lot of challenges to overcome, things are far from
picture perfect, but they're a huge improvement.
I want to send out an immense thank you to everyone who helped me out in
any amount during all of this craziness: My family, Eric Wilkerson,
Marc Scheff, Danny Schwartz, Keisha Cedeno, Bernard Lee, Stephen
Najarian, Randy Gallegos, and anyone else I may have missed.
A very special thank you to my girlfriend Amabel, who was one of my
inside people at the company and kept me sane throughout one of the most
insane stretches of my life. It's great to start this next chapter
together and long distance can suck it. Thank you Ama.
To close out this post, I want to point out that before I got the email
being offered the interview, I was feeling my usual crummy self about a
lot of things in my life. It's easy to convince yourself things just
aren't going anywhere, and nothing's happening. But if you lay out the
ground work and make yourself ready for opportunity, once it appears you
can be ready for it, and things can change drastically in a very short
amount of time if you're willing to take a chance and take the plunge into the seemingly impossible. While working on my portfolio and my extra samples I was
absolutely miserable, and all I really wanted to do was to stop working
out it and get back to the usual crummy grind, thinking that it was
pointless to even try, and started thinking how much it would suck to go
through all of this trouble and have it all fall apart. But I worked
through these thoughts and it was all worth it in the end. If you give
100% every time an opportunity presents itself, eventually one of those
things is gonna come through. The day before I got the interview email I
thought getting a job and moving to New York would be impossible. It's
funny how many things like this seem out of our reach until we lunge at them full-force and all of a sudden it's reality.
Thanks for taking the time to read all of this and I'm excited to share new stuff soon :)