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'Honours' in Revision: Creative health half a year on, post-Design Conference

Last year I completed my Honours degree at Griffith Uni on the GC (Aus) and might I just say that, looking back, it wasn't one of my finer creative endeavours. At first I thought I would tackle employment and mental health within the creative industry, though half way through I ended up completely changing my topic because, from the get-go, the previous topic was a disaster of Titanic proportions. Now I'm not making excuses, but I put this down to not having a rebellious phase in my adolescence- obviously delaying mine until I had hit legitimate adulthood seemed to be the right course of action.

"Wait, Sam, buddy. You're joking right? You're like the most sensible person I know!" Well it's true dear reader, I too am liable to the occasional tantrum and so help me could I not be pacified. What started out as a creative depression, following my lack of immediate employment post graduation (I know right! How dare they!), turned into a festering sack of shit, but (though I do hope you'll excuse my language) it was a terrible time to be had and I do believe that matters of the mind and emotion best not be understated.

Being the paradigm of good decision making that I am however, I elected to base a whole research project on it, this festering shit-sack. I lived and breathed it for months, and whilst I was motivated, I was no closer to finding the closure I needed than Donald Trump is to finding a subtler shade of spray tan. It took me a good part of my Honours year to plate something other than my existential crisis for my teachers to critique- I was the Oliver Twist of design graduates and Natalia Ilyin was my only solace.

Looking back though, I have never been more passionate about something, creatively, as I was about promoting the agency of the unemployed, neglected, hard-done-by, jaded, spiritually and emotionally hijacked, post graduate. Okay, I promise I'm over it. No really.

But I did get over it eventually. It was the slice-of-reality-pie that was 'The Design Conference' (then, the 'Analogue/Digital Conference') that was just what I needed to ditch the self-pity. The presenters, designers that I looked up to for the mere fact that they were presenting anywhere at all, were revealed to be humans just like you and myself. Well as you can imagine I was shocked, "Is this some kind of sick JOKE!?!?" I screamed internally. 

Once the outrage had died, I became painfully aware that I had some how come to, (to quote a movie) 'put the pussy on a pedestal'*. These people had, like myself, struggled and toiled against themselves and their respective fields, and had, unlike myself, worked hard to get to where they are today. It was a sobering experience to realise that, 'my idols have idols' (Sam D., 2016).

Having only just been to this years Design Conference have I really stopped to think about where I am now to where I was last year. I'm unemployed, broke, constantly anxious, my wisdom teeth are coming through, but I am content. Honours allowed me to build myself a solid foundation in which to be believe in myself and my creative ability. Sure, every now and then I have to go digging just to make sure it's really there, but without it I cannot say where I'd be. Probably sulking over a pot of juice somewhere. 

And it's all thanks to that bitter-sweet slice of pie (apple pie OC; like if it had a flavour), 'The Design Conference'. If not for those designers I would probably have never changed my Honours research topic and I probably never would have found any reconciliation or, most importantly, contentment. This recent event has only compounded this for me.

After all that I ended up looking at self-fulfilment and intrinsic motivation as the core aspects of my research- what things about being creative motivated me and how best can they fulfil me- not too shabby aye? So if you're reading this and you've misplaced your self-worth, or if you lack inspiration, or if you're ruing the fact that your last IG post got a less than satisfactory reception, take a moment to look inside and be content with the utter chaos of your own creativity. I promise you that, it's not the key to success, but at the very least a healthier practice. And, hey, if that doesn't work then drop a couple a hunnies and treat yo'self to a design conference and ask the professionals how they do it!

(P.S. If you do let me know how 'cause I really have no idea: hey@samdone.com)

*'The Forty Year Old Virgin' is quality entertainment for the whole family and I will not be told otherwise.

Sam Dunn