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Question 1

Are you currently in a job that you feel overqualified for?

Photo prompt #1: A picture with your major.

When I accepted my current job at a big box retailer in February 2011, I didn’t think I would have to be there for more than a few months. I thought, “Okay, this will pay the bills until I can find a non-profit or small, local design company to work for. “

I graduated in 2008 with an Illustration degree from Rhode Island School of Design. Although I wasn’t naïve about the number of jobs out there for traditional illustrators on the market, I really wasn’t prepared for what the next few years had in store. After being laid off from three different art-related jobs, I floated from waiting tables to stuffing envelopes to booking events — waiting for the next illustration job to pop up. It seldom did, and when something surfaced there was a massive amount of competition. I was lost in the shuffle.

Years passed and eventually I was offered my current job as a visual merchandiser, laying out the store’s floor plan and creating displays. Unfortunately for the many other qualified people who applied for the job, I knew someone working for the company. I honestly believe this is the No. 1 reason why anyone gets a job in this economy. I had no experience in this particular role, but enough design sense to be qualified for the job.

While I certainly don’t feel overqualified for the position — nor do I feel that it’s a “bad job” — I do feel that it’s a far cry from what I set out to do. Perhaps more importantly, I’m not interested in advancing with the company. My ideals don’t align with those of mega-corporations, and I would like to work for a group that makes a positive difference in people’s lives.

While I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do when I graduated, I had an enormous amount of ambition and expected to be more advanced in my career than I am today. I don’t blame the economy entirely for this. I know I shoulder some of the blame for not picking a specific, or more direct, path for myself. However, I know so many people who had made a career in the arts for themselves before 2008 that I thought it would be easier than it has been.

I am no longer optimistic about my prospects as a freelance illustrator, despite some small successes along the way. The thought of having no safety net if the work trickles to a halt is just too much pressure for me at this point in my life. It could be that I was never cut out for that kind of work or it could be that my experiences during and after college made me crave stability. I wonder about that a lot. I have decided to go to graduate school for art conservation and restoration, and I’m much more optimistic about that.

The future is incredibly uncertain, but I still believe that if you’re smart, hard-working, confident, and a little bit lucky, you will eventually find success in your career and life — for now.


  1. CircusMcGurkus at 10:25 pm, September 28, 2012

    Art preservation and restoration is a wonderful choice to combine your skills and passion for art with something meaningful for the world. You sound like a thoughtful and insightful person, more together than a lot of folks twice your age. Good luck!

  2. anonymous at 2:06 pm, October 24, 2012

    Hi Sophy, the work that you posted with your answers are lovely. Have you tried selling art on the side — portraits, customized children’s books that sort of thing? I am just wondering if you tried building up your resume/income for the arts with little things? If so, how did it go?