We had the good fortune of connecting with Molly Cummings and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Molly, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
In order to accomplish anything in life, we must take action. There is a movie I like to quote when people aren’t making a change yet they are complaining that nothing is changing. Simply “if you don’t want to get wet, yet all you do is stand in the rain, what the hell did you think was going to happen.” I’m not sure if I actually quoted that right but you get the gist. But risk means something different to everyone. Risk is not just moving cross-country. It’s not showing up to another LA networking event when you want to stay home. Risk is something more personal. Risk is looking at something that scares you and doing it anyway. I had a few people tell me when I first moved to LA I was fearless. They said these things because I moved cross country alone, as a female, without knowing anyone in CA. To me, that does not deserve the credit I get. That is not risk. That is strength. Risk was quitting a full-time job because it wasn’t creating any type of happiness for me. Risk was speaking up about things that matter, or are unjust when other people look the other way. Risk to me, is being open and genuine in a world full of people who are afraid to reveal who they really are. Risk is authentically being yourself and following the path that makes sense to you, regardless of other people’s opinions. Risk is not something that we should be afraid of, it’s something we should crave. Risk is opportunity regardless of the outcome.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I studied Interior Design before switching over to Graphic Design. Although I don’t work in that field I need to give credit to that program. It was super intensive as it was a New York State accredited program. I genuinely think that the skills I learned getting that degree have helped me significantly throughout the years.
Some advice I got when I was a young graphic design professional was that “As you grow in the field of design, you learn to train your eye. Once you start seeing what makes a design bad, you can see what makes a design good.” This advice has made sense tenfold as I move through-out my career.
I honestly feel my career really took off when I decided to move to LA. I had been working as a Creative Marketing Director at a college in Upstate New York and was not feeling fulfilled in any aspect of my career. I felt underappreciated, underpaid, and simply stuck. So for the type of person I am – I started doing research. I looked all over the US and compared cities based upon the type of design projects they turned out along with what type of agencies were in the area. I educated myself on the job market and essentially updated my resume, (I actually made three different designs depending on the company I was applying for) picked a date I was going to put my notice in at my job, and then made a leap of faith. At the time I was going to PLENTY of meditation classes so I need to give credit to those for helping me find the strength in myself. I trusted myself as a designer that I could work hard enough to land on my feet. And I moved to LA.
I’ve been in LA for almost 5 years; when I first arrived I worked as a freelancer getting work through a few design agencies until I landed a job at DreamWorks Animation four and a half years ago. I never thought I would work in west coast entertainment being from Buffalo, NY. But now I can’t imagine not being in entertainment or a music-related industry. To me it’s something super magical. I went from creating advertisements for a college aimed at selling students on spending their monies, to designing logos and posters encouraging kids and adults to enjoy their time watching a TV show that brings them joy. I think that’s been my biggest accomplishment: leaving a career that didn’t suit me so that I could find something that fits without effort with who I am as a creative. To put it lightly, it’s been a dream.
Honestly, a career is like any other challenge in life: you need to figure out what doesn’t work to figure out what does. I made a list of things that were make-or-break deals for me. I need a please and thank you. I need kind coworkers. I need a positive and supportive work environment. I need, and I mean, absolutely need to be able to listen to music while I work. I don’t like designing for projects I don’t value. I need clear communication and feedback. And once I was confident on the things I needed and wanted it was easier to spot the jobs that might work for me. Then the universe must had added a little luck as I could not imagine working with a group of more supportive individuals on a day-to-day basis than the creative marketing team at DreamWorks.
I know I still have a long road ahead with inevitable twists and turns but I’m beyond excited for it. Currently, my dream is to be an SVP of creative within entertainment. I’m willing to put the effort in as I climb my way up there. Every step, every job, every project is a part of the process. I can genuinely say I’m ready to take the risks to get there.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh my gosh, I always say I’ll never take the CA mountains for granted. I love those mountains and I especially enjoy the views when hiking high up the trails. Pretty much anything in nature, the beaches, hot springs, hidden scenic gems, make this area so rich. I’m also a museum nerd: it’s great owning memberships that allow me to bring a friend to events on whim.
Korean BBQ is special. I think my attraction is in part because the first time I experienced this was when my parents came to visit in LA. And I for some reason think the whole experience is a vibe.
Comedy Shows. I mean really is there anything better than paying just five dollars to laugh for a few hours?!
And then good music and some dancing. LA has LOTS of awesome venues. I can’t even just pick one. But at some point there definitely needs to be a moment to shake some tail feathers.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
So I will have to start off by saying in first grade when we were learning about Nessie the Loch Ness Monster my dad brought home our first computer. My dad is an IT technician. My homework assignment was to draw what I thought the Loch Ness Monster looked like. My dad found me coloring and told me that it would be more impressive if I created Nessie in this new program called Paint. I was one of three kids in my class that brought in printed drawings created in Paint. Makes you wonder a bit what those kids decided to be when they grew up.
That will forever be the first project I ever created on the computer. So my support started with my father forcing me to evolve within the world of technology. Other than that every holiday I received all different types of art kits from family members. And it was embedded in my brain at a young age that “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I’m sure anyone who had kind and loving grandparents heard that saying a million and one times. But it’s true. Why would you want to put energy into anything but those things you love?
I’m extremely lucky to have supportive parents and sisters. My dad still answers all of my computer questions and my mother still hangs my artwork on the walls. My two sisters, Anna and Haley, have both modeled for me in photo shoots. My extended family have always attended my art shows. Special to me was my Aunt Jeanie, who had always shown me the strength of being a strong, genuine female figure who knows when to speak up. I appreciate countless awesome, amazing friends. My close LA friends have been my family away from the east coast. My friend Cody Weiler is actually one of my favorite designers and is killing it in his own business – Holy Smokes Supply Co. My friend Alma Jimenez, whose ideas are always too large for paper, inspires me weekly.
Before going into graphic design, I lived a life in interior design. And from that have met some of the most amazing, creative, kind souls. My IDE family, as I call them, have been my biggest support system. Between pulling all-nighters in the art studio at school or questioning me in a way that really progresses my skills, they have always been there. So thank you Jonathan Casey (late), Laura Rothfuss (late), Lauren Melber, Lisa Carrero, Amanda Witzling, Cait Doherty and Barbara Hennesey. I honestly would not have the courage to navigate life’s up and downs without them. I am beyond lucky.