Transitioning to a creative career.

Robin HamiltonCreative Director

Five years ago I was sitting at a desk in a glass tower, wearing a suit and tie and not really feeling like I fitted. I was brimming with ideas but had little outlet for them. When I was given sales tools I didn’t like, there was nothing I could do.

Having studied maths and then gone into the corporate world, I would listen to friends in the creative industries with envy, but felt like I had made the wrong decisions and the creative world was out of touching distance.

Then I made a decision to be more creative in my time outside of work. I made gift cards, designed T-shirts, studied photography composition, went to galleries and started following numerous blogs on Tumblr.

The more creative I got outside work, the more stifled I felt in work, so I decided to negotiate my working days down to four per week. This was a big sacrifice financially but some small habitual changes to my lifestyle (cycling to work rather than taking the tube, and splashing out less on lunches), brought my day to day living costs down and made it possible.

I used my extra day a week to do more creative things and started studying how to code (as I knew this was a skill that is in demand in the creative world). I used CodeAcademy and Lynda as learning resources.

Through a contact, I managed to get an internship at Plus Two with my one day a week. I made tea, picked up little side projects and learnt about some more great resources like Smashing Magazine and CSS tricks. Eventually I wore them down and they offered me a full time paid post. I could barely contain my excitement.

Since then it has been an incredibly steep learning curve and a lot of hard work, but I wake up in the morning wanting to go to work. I still arrive an hour early to work every day to study and hone my skills. I think this is a habit I will keep alive as the industry is always moving and there is always more to learn.

My top tips for moving industries:

  1. Get experience in your personal time. Volunteer, study and get making.
  2. Learn to live on less. It is a lot easier than you think.
  3. Talk to people about what you’re trying to do. Ask for help and don’t give up.

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