By Yumi Sakugawa
I recently graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in art. For many, an art degree is akin to gambling with your life and livelihood. Only a year ago, I was unhappy with my life and not making any art. And yet now—knock on wood, I feel so deliriously lucky. I’ve managed to piece together a life that keeps me financially afloat and engages my creativity and curiosity.
On paper, I have yet to reach any conventional milestone of success. As an art school graduate, I’ve yet to have a solo art show, a published graphic novel or even my own one-bedroom apartment.
But what I do have is a meaningful day job and beyond that -- the freedom to create art.
During the week, I am the online editorial producer for Intent.com, an Internet start-up that gathers the best wellness articles on the web and helps people achieve their goals and intentions. I started interning at Intent.com nine months ago. Today, I am a full-time employee shaping the site’s editorial voice and guiding its bloggers and authors.
When I am not working at Intent, I am working on my art. This can mean a number of things: I may be working on an illustration commissioned by a published author who wants drawings for an upcoming novel. Or I might be working on a close friend’s request for a tattoo design reflecting her Cambodian culture. Or I may be brainstorming ideas for an upcoming painting series, an outline for a graphic novel or imagining the business plan of a future greeting card line that benefits women in oppressed countries.
Between my days and evenings, I am living my dream. At my day job, I get to read inspirational articles, connect with inspirational authors, research new social causes, brainstorm new ideas and write articles about relevant world events. I also have the time and the energy to make new artwork every day.
What a luxury to wake up in the morning to work on an ink brush drawing in my sketchbook. What a joy to play with watercolors in the evening hours with the radio in the background and a glass of (cheap) wine on the table. What a great way to keep myself from living the stereotype of the suicidal and unemployed artist.
What difference does it make if these drawings are not hanging in a famous gallery right now? I am making artwork, I am writing, and I am inspired. I am living my dream. It turns out that – with a bit of flexibility and creativity – it wasn’t that hard.
Artwork by Yumi Sakugawa:
Yumi Sakugawa is an online editorial producer for Intent.com, a wellness website founded by Deepak Chopra’s daughter Mallika Chopra. She is also the monthly columnist for the Pacific Citizen, the nation’s largest Japanese-American newspaper, and a freelance illustrator. She currently lives in West Los Angeles and does volunteer work with the creative community in downtown Little Tokyo. Her website is www.yumisakugawa.com.