While I was out in Bethesda, Maryland this past weekend, taking in what was to see at the Front Row fashion events, I was inspired by the artwork of Maggie O’Neill (O’Neill Studios LLC). Though she has an undergraduate degree in Political Science, O’Neill continued her education in Photography and Digital Imaging before pursuing a Masters Degree in Fine Art. It wasn’t until she completed her first exterior mural that she decided to go into utilitarian and public artwork.
O’Neill now has a 2500 square foot studio in Kensington, Maryland and a team of professional artists to work with. There is no doubt that this is what she was meant to do, but it took her a long and winding road to get there.
When I spoke with her on Saturday, she told me that she just “fell into it”. And that sounded appropriate enough.
Even with my own background in International Relations, I’ve recently been working in a field that doesn’t utilize those skills or draw on my area of expertise. However, I’ve taken great joy in the parts of my job that allow me to draw on my own creativity, especially those which allow for design and aesthetics.
So, I guess you could say that I fell into my passion.
I have always and forever been an artistic and creative person and took more joy in learning about artwork than any other subject in school. I never thought, though, that being an artist could be a profession. All my life I was fed stereotypes of the starving artists; the Beatnick, the wandering writer, the sojourning painter, the sketch artist at the street fair. Never once had I thought I could make a liveable wage working in aesthetics. And so, when the time came to go to college, I didn’t study drawing or painting or crafts. In fact, I didn’t study any kind of skill at all, really. I went to school in the discipline of International Relations.
Now, in my later twenties, I appreciate so much more the need to have a skill and the motivation it takes to build a career in a profession that I both love and feel I contribute something absolutely unique to and, of course, can make money from – at least enough to live on.
I’ve discovered, or fell into, a new passion: graphic design.
Graphic design is everywhere. It’s accessible, it’s necessary, it’s a part of every organization and business. It’s not as lofty or noble a goal as my original (an international mediator), but there is something gratifying in knowing that you’ve created something both beautiful and useful.
I fully intend to keep creating beautiful, useful pieces of art, for that is my passion.