Here’s what happened
I’ve been something of a career vagabond, for as long as “career” has been a thing in my life. I’m 27 years old, so I haven’t exactly been around the block, but it’s also not necessarily acceptable to be unsettled, without a retirement plan and a 401k. It started when I went to college, where I changed my major at least three times before discovering the wonderful world of graphic design. I settled on the greatest major I could ever imagine, and enthusiastically completed (usually with success) my art classes. I felt like I could handle it all, and I adored art school. I loved painting, drawing, photography, design, illustration, all of it. I found myself at the end of the road, ready to take on my Capstone Project: the project that matters more than anything else in the four years of college it takes to become a degree-carrying graphic designer. Turns out, I wasn’t ready. I did terribly, and received a generous “C” grade in the Capstone class. There I was, finished with my degree, and somehow I’d managed to burn myself out on a career that I hadn’t even started. It’s funny because so often I’d thought to myself that I was so great at school and so talented, of course I’d succeed. I’ll be the first to admit how wrong I was. I think I’ve probably learned more in the four years since graduating than I did during those four years of college.
So what next? Perhaps I’ll be an X-Ray technician. Maybe I should be a pharmaceutical sales rep. Perhaps I can work as a waitress and a bartender (which did happen, briefly). My mother suggested teacher education. Why not be an art teacher? Of course! Perfect! I’d almost always loved school, I had an art degree, this would be perfect. Two years and many more dollars later, I was certified (and now, married), and ready to heal the world with the magic of art lessons. I somehow managed to land a part-time job soon after certification, and it was at the most majestic school I could ever have imagined. A private, elite Catholic girls school, with an unheard-of art department budget, beautifully behaved students, and the nicest colleagues (many with advanced ivy-league degrees) that anyone could ask for. I have never been the most elegant, poised, put-together person, and was honestly, probably not good enough for this place. Truthfully, I couldn’t believe I’d been hired, and every day as I drove onto the magnificent campus, I thought about how lucky I was to work there. It was like a dream, that also occasionally included sub-dreams of owning a bed and breakfast (a dream that has since passed). Like I said, vagabond.
Two years and a (surprise) baby boy later, I woke up from the dream. Enrollment had declined, and the grades I was teaching were particularly thin and getting worse. I learned that one of my classes would be dropped. Then I got a call saying my other class would have to be given to one of the other art teachers. I had lost my perfect dream job.
After my principal hung up the phone, my mind was racing. What could I do? How was I going to find a teaching job for the next year in the middle of June? Somehow, oddly, as often happens, an idea came to me during this unexpected moment. It was a creative, exciting, artistic idea. I paused my anxious thoughts, and thought more and more about this idea, for a body of work that I could create and sell and wholesale and eventually find in West Elm or Pottery Barn (yes, I went crazy with it). I talked with my husband about it, and I felt frenzied, manic. I was so excited, because the idea had been (still is) something I’d never seen before. He supported me, and told me to do it. Not to look for jobs, but to pursue my vision, and become an artist. So I did. I cleaned up my basement, set up a studio, and started creating. I began to work on my big, grand masterpiece, but along the way, realized that it was going to be a long time before anything happened with it. I realized I might also want to make other kinds of artwork, and maybe create little pieces of joy that everyday people like me could buy and take home to look at. Thus began Scavenge + Bloom. My new Capstone. My chance to prove myself (after only lukewarm success in other vocational pursuits) and combine the skills I know I have to make beautiful things. So here it is. I’m really excited. I hope you like it.