We had the good fortune of connecting with Amy Jasinski and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amy, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
The concept of work life balance is one that I’ve been reflecting on a lot in my career, and my feelings on it have solidified substantially through experiencing a pandemic. My belief – how I’m aiming to live my life – is that there is no such thing as ‘work life balance’. We live one life, and we have the power to choose how we spend it. Work is a component of my day; a piece of the 24-hour pie. My goals, relationships, and projects outside of work are not just slotted around my day job; they hold equal value. If there is an aspect of my life that needs tending to, whether it’s a work relationship, a family matter, or a personal need, I will tend to it. Thankfully, I work with people who share these values and respect my boundaries in this way. I follow what nourishes me and the lifestyle I aim to create for myself.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a graphic designer by trade, and I’m proud to be able to say so with confidence, because it’s been a long road to get here. I didn’t have a lot of guidance in grade school, so when it came time for college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. I went to community college to buy some time and save some money (highly recommend). It was there that I took my first proper drawing class. I always loved drawing; I used to want to be a fashion designer, but I took more to photography in high school.
In that drawing class in college, I discovered I had a real knack and passion for it. By sophomore year, I knew I wanted to study Art at UC Santa Barbara because I had fallen in love with the school, but they didn’t have a graphic design program. My parents didn’t really understand what could be done with an Art degree because they’d only really ever heard negative stereotypes about artists, so I was met with resistance. Still, I knew it was what I wanted to do, and I knew I could build myself a successful career in a creative field. I was determined to prove them wrong.
After college, I managed to get a job as a “Graphic Design Specialist” in a small software company. As it turned out, the job was more administrative than creative, and I left after about 5 months and tried freelancing for the first time. I took an online web design boot camp course while rebuilding my dad’s business’ website. I also spent a lot of time drawing and trying to develop a ‘style’.
One day, I was working from a coffee shop in San Francisco, and I had grown frustrated with the financial and professional limbo I was in, and I decided to apply for some jobs. That same afternoon I got a callback and set up an interview, and a week later I accepted the position as a Web Designer for Alameda County.
I worked there for nearly 4 years and built incredibly special relationships and experiences that laid a solid foundation for my career. However, I knew that I needed to be in a more creative and flexible environment where I could lean into the types of projects that grab my attention and hold it. As someone with ADHD, working a desk job is already challenging, and working a desk job that you aren’t passionate about can feel dang near impossible.
The tricky part about graphic design, however, is that you need a very strong portfolio for any company to even glance in your direction. With my job history, I wasn’t able to build that, so I decided I would try volunteering. It was with that decision that I found an opportunity with a domestic violence nonprofit that I wound up sticking with for nearly 3 years. I started out as the only graphic designer in the org, then eventually grew into a Design Director who managed a team of 5 designers.
While volunteering, I was able to begin building my portfolio with meatier projects. I also was still drawing and had developed a strong style that would eventually become my brand. With these components, I built my website. With my website, I applied to a startup that felt too good to be true and actually got a callback! In the phone interview, they asked about some areas of work that I knew I had gaps in, but I was so excited about the role that I wanted to show them that I could create anything if given the chance, so I created a graphic for them that night and emailed it to the recruiter. He passed it on to the team and they brought me in for an interview. When I received the offer, I felt like I was on the moon. I had finally broken into my dream career as a graphic designer.
Still, I didn’t feel confident to say “I’m a graphic designer” until I had a few more freelance projects and couple more years of work experience under my belt. Likewise with my art, it’s been a long road of experimentation, practice, and exploration to get to where I can confidently call myself an artist.
The most beautiful aspect of all of this, is that I know I still have so much room to grow, and so much left to experience. It’s such a huge blessing to be a professional creative; to be capable of bringing my ideas to life, and to help others build theirs. Whenever imposter syndrome starts to creep back in, I remind myself that the worst someone can say is ‘no’, or “I don’t like it”. If I have a client or a teammate with whom I can’t find alignment, I remind myself that either the project needs clarifying, or we’re not the right fit for each other, and that’s okay! It can be challenging to let go of the personal attachment in creative fields, but the reward of creating something that resonates with the intended audience is beyond worth it.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I dedicate my shout out to: Amber Sawaya & Kira Griffin, for giving me the chance that opened up the door to my dream career, and mentoring me with authenticity.
Kristen Faith Sharpe, for trusting me and giving me all the space I needed to grow and create.
Arnold Fernandes, for supporting every career move I’ve wanted to make, and every medium I’ve wanted to try.
Isabel Moffly, for introducing me to Shoutout, and for being a consistent source of creative support and inspiration.
KayLa N. Allen, for coaching me with incredible patience and gifting me with the tools needed to evolve into the best version of myself.
The books The Artist’s Way (Julia Cameron), Untamed (Glennon Doyle), and The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle), for introducing me to how it feels to truly be free.