I came across this phrase on Pintrest a few weeks back, and somehow I can’t get it out of my head. The more I think about it, I can only conclude it is a truth that can’t be neglected. We simply do not retire.
From a personal point of view and as a designer, let me put the phrase into context:
In August 2015 I resigned from a position as Creative Director at a local design agency, packed my bags and went to Lebanon. There I had a much overdue Intestine Reconstruction Surgery (That’s another story and I’ll speak about in another blog). I thought that would mark the end of my design career. Not necessarily because I would be unfit for work, but because it was time for me to finally focus on myself and my family. I needed to get healthy and strong again. My plan was to return to Bahrain and transform into a stay-at-home mom; cooking, baking and taking care of myself and my boys. Boy, was I wrong….
Surgery went well and recovery was surprisingly fast. I probably had a month of relaxation, cooking and baking but I found myself unintentionally designing (those little grey cells subconsciously crafting away) things for my house, for my friends and I fell into reading design blogs with far greater interest than baking recipes.
Before I knew it, word spread like wild-fire that I was back in town and back in the game. This was not quite true as I rejected a lot of design work with apologies such as “Sorry, I retired” and “I don’t do that anymore, but I can refer you to someone else.” The responses were always the same: “Please get in touch when and if you change your mind.”
A few weeks passed and slowly I found myself accepting some small design jobs. I started taking on a few Social Media Management projects that interested me. Not too many, just enough to keep myself entertained. Before I knew it, I was busy. And I loved it! I loved my clients, and they trusted me. It was a delicious feeling and overwhelmingly satisfying. This is what a designer thrives on and realizing these sentiments were my ‘high,’ I simply knew I had to re-launch my husband’s snoozing project titled ‘The Little Design Shop’ and have some fun with it.
Driving along to meetings, listening to my much appreciated business podcasts, I often think about how wrong I was to think I had retired. The funny thing is, at the time I really believed it. I honestly thought I was done with the design world at the age of 28.
Designers just do not retire. We cannot. Designing is our way of life, a calling, and it is something we live and breathe. Not in the ‘oh la la’ philosophical way, but in the way it is engraved in our DNA; we think and see things with our designer mind. There is always something that could be a little better in the world around us. A font; an alignment; moving this a little to the left… Even the paper quality we touch sparks something inside us to say: “Hmmm, I like the way this feels!” We always have something positive or negative to say about any print material in front of us. For God’s sake, we even critique the ads we hear on the radio. Our designer voice pours out of our mouths and designer opinions are always expressed one way or the other, even when it is not needed, wanted or called for.
At the end of the day, I like to believe that all my designer friends are happy doing what they love. Most designers I know are not wealthy, but they all make enough to live a good life. I like to believe that a lot of us are content because yes, we all work for money but we design because we love it. We do it because we’re good at it and we love what we do. The title Graphic Designer at an agency is not a requirement; the beauty of being a designer is that no matter what form or title we take, our essence is still the same. We could design for events, design for magazines, design products, become photographers and painters or even living for the simple joy of designing wallpaper paper.
I am a fortunate soul to be able to do what I love.
As the corny saying goes: If your job is your hobby, then it really isn’t work. Or something like that...