I’m a creative director, most recently in fashion retail. Right now, I’m looking for a job.
I studied fine arts in college. I applied to art schools as well as regular colleges, and we went to visit all the schools I got into. Rhode Island School of Design was the last one. After five minutes there, my father was asking to put a deposit down, he loved it so much.
I moved to London after RISD, to do a training program at Sotheby’s. Halfway through, I knew it wasn’t for me. But I stayed in London while my work visa lasted. I went to work for Antiques Roadshow; they produced this “magazine,” where you got pre-punched pages every month and put them in in a binder. They had one Mac, on which I learned to use Quark 1.
After about a year of being back in New York freelancing, I applied to grad school in painting. A lot of my work was based on history and memory. I’m still fascinated by the idea of history revealing more about the teller than about the event. For me it was spurred by the fact that my father, a childhood Holocaust survivor, never—at the time—spoke about his past. I had only fragments of information. So, I would construct realities. I did a whole series with photographs I’d buy at flea markets and then build histories around them.
I also got a teaching degree, to give myself more options. Meanwhile I worked for a catalog company, doing production. I learned so much about myself while making a go of being an artist. All the things I did as side hustles, I wanted to do them well. Plus, the business side of things was really interesting to me. I wasn’t just waiting until projects came my way. I wanted to take charge. My side hustle gradually became my hustle.
The first job I settled into was as the art director of the Broadway theater industry trade association. I met my husband while I was there. By the time we got married, I had moved over to a big ad agency, where I managed two designers. I liked that part right away.
We moved to Chicago after our first son was born. My husband was doing an MFA at Northwestern, and I was able to stay with the ad agency and keep my New York salary. Our second son was born there. That was where we really started living like a family and not just leading parallel lives.
I’ve been the primary earner in my marriage from the start. My husband is a theater maker, and I truly believe that what he does, most of the time, is more important than what I do. Our goals are the same; he’s just the person on the ground executing them. It’s a partnership.
My most recent job took us to Philadelphia, where we’ve lived for four years. At first, it was the best job I ever had. But we ended up going through four CEOs in 18 months. I have a lot of opinions about leadership now. Relationships are the most important thing. I spend more time with the people I work with than with my family; I have to care about them.
I’m at a crossroads now, figuring out my next move. Part of me thinks “Beggars can’t be choosers,” but then I think, “Why not?” I heard about a study recently, of men and women applying for jobs. Women felt they needed at least 80% of the bullet points on a job description in order to believe they were qualified. Men felt they needed 50% and could learn the rest. And in interviews, women were quick to talk about what they didn’t have. They might make a case for how they could learn it, but they were still the ones pointing out what they didn’t know. I thought, “Oh my god. I absolutely, 100% do that.” I’m not going to do that anymore.
Interviewed on April 8, 2019