Whether you have it made or have to hustle for everything in life, the common thread for success is being able to take advantage of opportunities however they may come. And good opportunities are hard to come by. so many of us have to get creative and manufacture them ourselves. The trick is turning your undivided attention towards them. Quit worrying about your title, your status, and long-term goals, and do something you can be proud of now. There is no lifelong career without today’s project. And tomorrow’s hobby. And next week’s introduction to some random stranger you’ve never heard of that will one day introduce you to your soul mate … who knows. The point is that these opportunities are free. They pay nothing but are worth everything.

I learned this firsthand as a teenager, not realizing that hip hop culture was teaching me the unsubtle art of not giving a fuck. I got picked on as a punk ass white boy, filling journals with graffiti sketches and writing rap lyrics. A rebellious 14 year old who thought he was fighting conformity, when in all reality I was crafting the skill sets of an art director and content strategist. Funny how that works. Turns out if you’re relentless enough in creating the things you care about, someone else cares too. And will pay you for it. That success may look a lot different than what you’d imagined, but there’s no way I’d now be creating the look and feel of cohesive brands without also experiencing that music and culture all working in harmony.

Sketchbook graffitti

Nowadays I can spot that same passionate kid who doubts their purpose but keeps at it no matter what. Their parents may not understand them. Their school may not offer courses that support their interests. But it’s not about acceptance as much as being a maker. I’ve personally bought dozens of books on typography and design, but still haven’t found one that breaks down the ligature varieties of graffiti. Or the color theory and composition of street art. The “type experts” will tell you that bombing doesn’t count as typography, but I disagree. More importantly, I’d love to research, write, and publish that book.

Pencil Icon
So here’s my advice if you’re an aspiring whatever: 1. You’re doing not enough. 2. Don’t wait for someone else to give you ideas—there are no rules. 3. Be honest, be kind, and don’t talk shit.

If you’re a designer, choose a fictional dream client and build their brand identity. If you’re a project manager, research company efficiencies within an industry you love, then post reports on LinkedIn about controversial workplace trends and obsolete business practices. If you’re a writer, why am I giving you ideas? You’ve got this. At the end of the day your profession doesn’t matter as much as your drive. Go assign yourself something cool.

A few things I’d put together during quarantine (all freebies):

March 6 – Louis VA identity system with seamless handbag pattern
March 31 – Fortnite ‘Quarantine’ logo (for my little dudes)
April 6 – Sidekick RVA logo, website UX/copywriting, social media (Think team collab with Nick Davis)
April 7 – Restoration of old ass door with etched-glass Think logo insert
April 21 – ‘Thinking of You’ greeting cards (Think team collab with WH&A)
April 26 – Sauer’s Garden brass historical plaques
April 27 – 24-hour Social Distancing graphic
May 5 – Slate & brushed gold address plaque
May 15 – erth Garden logo concepts
May 17 – Vegetable garden fully clad in razor-sharp chicken wire (hands off, squirrels)

Don’t worry about gaps in your resume, worry about gaps in your side hustle.