Why am I at the Flatiron School?
While I liked my old job as the Interactive Designer/Developer for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, I was ready for a change. I’m pretty sure if I had to design just one more email template or tweak one more WordPress theme, I was gonna go crazy. I fell out of love with design at my old job. Then I encountered two pieces of inspiration that helped me find my way…
Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It’s on Netflix, so if you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend you watch it or at least add it to your instant queue. In case you haven’t heard of it before, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a documentary that follows Jiro, an 85-year-old master sushi chef in Japan and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a Michelin three-star, 10-seat restaurant.
On the second time I watched it, I was really struck by the way Jiro spoke about his craft. He clearly loves his work and it drives him. He strives for perfection.
Jiro says: “Once you decide your profession, you must immerse yourself in the study of it. You must learn to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your work. You must dedicate your life to mastering that skill. That’s the secret of success… and is the key to being regarded honorably.”
As a web designer, I realized that I needed to immerse myself in the study of web development. I needed to figure out a way to fall back in love with web design. I knew that I couldn’t keep talking and dreaming about “wouldn’t it be cool if…” applications. I must build the applications I want to use.
His oldest son, Yoshikazu, who leads the work at his father’s restaurant, says of his father: “Always look ahead and above yourself. Always try to improve on yourself. Always strive to elevate your craft. That’s what he taught me.”
From a career perspective, I knew that in order to elevate my work, I needed to be able to provide more than simple front end design. With HTML/CSS skills being almost a requirement nowadays for most web designers, eventually I would have to learn how to program.
I first heard about Ruby on Rails from my oldest brother, Theo, who is a huuuuge fan of 37signals (for those who don’t know 37signals gave birth to Ruby on Rails). I had been curious about learning Ruby on Rails for some time and that’s what led me to find the Flatiron School.
Lastly, I want to end with a book recommendation: Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. I think the tagline, “10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative,” sums it up well. I think a bit more accurate tagline is “10 Guidelines to Help You In Being Creative.” The book is an excellent read.. but if you’re on a tight budget, he’s got a great TED talk.
To anyone out there stuck in a rut, Kleon’s book really inspired me to outline concrete actions to start producing creative work again. It literally motivated me to clean everything on, inside, and around my desk (both physical and virtual). It motivated me to make changes in the way I work to be more productive.
What have y’all found helpful for encouraging big life shifts?