Life as an Art Graduate


Life has been different since finishing university.

When I left I was full of optimism for the coming months of travel in South America and the career I had mapped out for my return. During university I dreamed I’d become a Graphic Designer, thinking that it’d be relatively easy to find a job with my First Class honours degree in Graphic Design & Illustration. Before beginning my journey to Peru I figured I’d start searching for design jobs as soon as I got back. However, during my travels I became accustomed to a life without the mental pressure of having to always strive to be creative. Suddenly I didn’t need to spend hours and hours feeling frustrated about my ideas. Instead I lived a fairly simple lifestyle out of my backpack. I had no routine.

I quickly became unattached to objects. The more I experienced in each country I travelled through, the less I needed ‘stuff’ and the more I realised just how many options in life I could have. Hostels were the best place to understand this. In Mendoza, Argentina, I met a couple in their thirties who told me they had both met whilst teaching English at a school in Taiwan and were now travelling across the whole South American continent. I met another couple in my dorm room in Santiago, Chile, who had quit their jobs at a bank and were now on a year or so long stint across South and Central America. I drank wine with an Australian couple who told the table they’d sold their house and quit their jobs just to travel. I began to think that life doesn’t have to be so straightforward. By the time I was ending my trip in Brazil, I had devised a plan to go home, save as much money as I could, then fly back out. I figured I could spend my time working in hostels for bed and board and travel on from place to place. My dream of becoming a designer began to slip out the window. All I wanted was to return to this beautiful continent as soon as possible.

So upon returning I was hit with a case of the common traveller’s depression. I’d predicted I would find it difficult to come back to England. But for the first month I had no desire to do anything. I was disgusted by my city. Nobody could quite picture the things I’d seen and done, and somehow when recounting my stories I felt a little exasperated. I didn’t want to be telling people about my experiences, I just had an overwhelming desire to run back and relive them. So it was difficult.

Once my mood eventually began to lift I joined a temping agency in an effort to gain some money back and to take my mind off the reality of being back in the cold UK. It was only meant to be a short stint to fill in the gap between my next trip, but instead it has become a seven month journey through various jobs in administration. Before graduation I had never had any intention of temping, but after months of lacking any interview invitations, I took it up. And surprisingly it has helped me boost my skills and confidence a lot. After a few months of temping I began to get invited for design interviews. Suddenly I felt uplifted and that I had a purpose. I remembered that I could design, and I could illustrate. Unfortunately for various reasons those job interviews didn’t work out, but I felt better. At least now I knew companies were interested in me.

A month of interviews later I began to veer back towards wanting to travel again. My mind began to wander to my plans of journeying across Venezuela and Colombia, learning Spanish and trekking across mountains. But then my mind would flip to it’s responsible side and think, shouldn’t I still be trying to get a permanent job? Shouldn’t I be focusing on getting my driving licence? But then my mind would flip again and think, no, I’m still young, I’m saving enough money with temping, why don’t I just go? But then wait – don’t forget, I should probably still be working on my illustration/graphic design portfolio too to help me get jobs! I have honestly found this year after graduating to be the most confusing of my life. Suddenly I have all these options, but then I also have all the pressure of seeing what my peers are doing. Trying to find a clear focus as a new graduate is one of the hardest tasks.

After all this confusion I have begun to define some goals to get me onto the right path. I am learning to drive again. I am working on illustrations in my spare time. I am temping full time in a completely unrelated job (which I enjoy) to save money. And best of all – I have some new travel plans.

This year I am heading to Sweden for a spontaneous long weekend, Sri Lanka for a friend’s wedding in July, and Corsica in August to meet my French boyfriend’s family. And the great unexpected thing about temping is: I am still earning money but I am able to take holidays when I like. However I now aim to look for a permanent job in design when I return from my travels in August, and am dedicating the next few months to work on my portfolio further.

So sometimes life doesn’t go the way we expect it… but sometimes that’s not always so bad.



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