Unfulfilled Dreams

This is a question I am asking of designers a good way (say, ten years) into their careers. It is likely at this point some of you might mutter “I wish I were an account …” and return to your keyboards. I would like to know if this has occurred to you, whether realistic or far-fetched, but due to circumstances or capability it is not going to be realized?

Myself, I always dreamt to be a cartoonist for Punch magazine.

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Originally I wanted to be NC Wyeth. Then later I wanted be Andrew Wyeth. In my career, I am at a possible pivot point. What I mostly say to myself is that I don’t want to get bored and I want to make things. I wish that was where the money was…


Had my life gone the way it should have, I’d be in Copenhagen teaching culinary arts and racing saloon cars on the weekend.


As mentioned a while back, I would be a Veterinarian. Preferably one that lives in a small picturesque village, filled with quirky townsfolk. Much like one seen in the BBC series The Vicar of Dibley :wink:


I’d once considered veterinary too. Did some work at an animal care facility during my first two college years on a Liberal Arts track. Found out something profound. The cute little furry things can…die. Didn’t happen often where I was working, but putting someone’s furbaby to sleep? Uh uh. Nope.

I never really had any kind of dream job, now that I think back on it. My life has had many career path twists. Made alot of poor choices. A few good ones too. If I could do anything right now that would make enough money to live, it would be living in a cabin on a mountain somewhere with four seasons, writing stuff people actually wanted to read.


Fell into it. No ambitions in life. Straight from school to design. Never aspired just learned. At the time I was studying martial arts and it was a wage to travel the world competing internationally. I had a choice to become international fighter or designer. I probably chose wrong.


Yes. That’s why I could never be a veterinarian. The first time someone showed up and said, “I’m getting tired of Missy. Could you please put her to sleep?” I’d walk out the door.

Last year, when it finally came time to put our very sick16-year-old beagle down, we called a service that sends a licensed veterinarian over to the house to do it. She was a seemingly very nice, 20-something woman who told us she regularly put down up to 15–20 pets per week.

Despite her surface appearance, I couldn’t help but think a connection was missing inside her brain that enabled her to do this day after day.

As I’ve mentioned in other threads, I grew up on a cattle and sheep ranch. I loved the animals and the farming parts of ranching. However, I studied design in college rather than agriculture because I couldn’t deal with the unpleasant aspects of working with animals. They get sick. They need to be branded, castrated, earmarked, and slaughtered.

Cattle and sheep are a bit dim-witted, but pigs are very clever — easily as smart or smarter than dogs or cats. When I was 12 or 13, I helped my dad load a big sow (female pig) into the back of the truck to take to the slaughterhouse. Terrified pigs have blood-curdling screams, and this pig screamed all the way to the slaughterhouse.

I have worse stories of life on a ranch, but I won’t share them here. These sorts of things never really bothered my dad or my brothers, but I couldn’t deal with them. I couldn’t be a rancher or a veterinarian. I haven’t eaten a bite of meat in 40-some years — just can’t do it.


Exactly. Me too man. My Dad bought a 35 acre farm when I was just finishing elementary school and we tried everything: horses, goats, chickens, pigs etc. 4-H helped a lot but we still made a lot of mistakes along the way and I can’t forget some of them.

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I, too, cannot deal with witnessing physical pains. Veterinary or any other medical sciences are out of the question for me. Graphic design seems civilized enough.

Then I found GFD. Now I can inflict pain on others at will. This part of the dream is fulfilled. Must learn to be subtle.


I also started life training as a Nurse. You think Graphic Design clients are a pain in the ass?


I have no issue with medical things. Well, except for eyeballs … anything to do with eyeballs completely grosses me out :rofl:

As for euthanasia, there are pretty strict guidelines of when and how it’s allowed in the Vet world. While some states allow “inconvenient euthanasia” no Vet that is ethical is ever going to put down a perfectly healthy animal because someone grew tired of caring for them. They will help educate and guide that person to local shelters for re-homing. That would be the road I would have taken.

The whole slaughterhouse thing is NEVER something I could do. That’s just not anything I could ever mentally handle. I worked with a girl who grew up on a chicken farm. Needless to say she stopped eating chicken as soon as she was old enough to gain her own voice.

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What you wrote reminded me of this old television show. :grinning: :wink:


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An old favorite. Used to watch it all the time as a kid :smiley:

Yup me too! I was still able to sing along with the theme song a bit.

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When I was 12 I wanted to be an animator, but for a kid from a small town in Northern Kentucky, that was like dreaming I could go to the moon (sort of) but wait . . .

Flash forward to age 19, I decided to try to become a Television Art Director. Looking at getting married in December of that. year, nearing the end of my Sophmore year at the University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), I thought the best way to do that would be to get a job at one of the two TV stations in Lexington. I talked to the current Art Director there. He gave me an assignment to create three Cam Cards for local programs. Three days later I showed him my work and he told the Production Manager, “I’ve got to have this guy.” So I got a position as Assistant AD.

I impressed the management and the current AD so much, that the current AD felt free to take a new AD job at a new station in Louisville and I became the AD.

That was June 1967. In the evenings, I decided to keep working on my first attempt at creating the cells for a :10 second single-frame animated opening for a local show that aired at 11:30 p.m. on Saturdays called “Thriller 18”—Well wha-da-you-know—It worked! I continued making other local show openings and was soon offered a big salary increase by taking the AD’s position at the competing station in January '68. And continued the process there until 1971 when I was hired to be the Creative Director and one of the largest ad agencies in the city.

At the ad agency, I created animated commercials that were seen nationally for General Electric, Hotpoint, Harvey’s Bristol Cream, Long John Silvers, Kentucky Fried Chicken, American Dairy Assoc. and many more, getting huge bonuses for that work in addition to my regular salary as CD.
That made me the 1st Commercial Animator in the state.

The eight-year ad agency experience was eight of the best years of my career to date and I began to dream of starting my own ad agency. Through a series of unfortunate events for the current agency, it closed and friends couraged to start my own shop. But I knew I was not ready.

I took a 3-year position as Director of Creative Services at a TV production company where I gained the “sales knowledge” I would need to venture on my own.

In November 1981, the owner of a large local car dealer (a client of mine at that time) said, “Gene, I want to go with an ad agency and I haven’t found any that I like. When are you going to get off your Duff and start a shop? If you do, I’ll go with you!”
“Are you serious?” I said.
“Serious as a heart attack.” She said.
“Okay, let me think about it a few days.”
Eight days later, the Manager of the Largest Shopping Mall in the area, said the same thing, “Gene, you ought to start your own agency. If you do, I’ll go with you.”

Two different people, from different companies, were saying the same thing within eight days of one another. This wasn’t a coincidence—it was Divine Direction. Time for my biggest dream to take place. I shared my intentions with another client, the owner of the largest sporting goods firm in Kentucky, and he said, “I’m in! Sign me up!” (NOTE: This client stayed with me through the years, right up to my retirement.)

Scared to death, three weeks later, on January 1982, I founded Creative Media, Inc. Other clients came in fast and within the first year, I had doubled my salary from 1981. I never looked back!
On April 15th, 2017, I sold my agency, retired, and closed my shop—50-years to the day since I started. It’s been a great ride. Some bumps along the way, of course. But one heck-of-a-career.

My hope for all of you, is that your story will be as fulfilling and successful as mine!

This is a seriously feel-good experience.

My request, however, is one of muted regret, of unrequited chance that slips by one’s grasp. As I noted, I dreamt of becoming a cartoonist for Punch magazine. It probably would not pay much, but to any cartoonist who dreamt, it would be Olympus. Of course I went on making a living, muttering “I wish I were an accountant …”

That’s a great story @PopsD. If there’s one thing that can be said about seriously pursuing this field is that it’s a roller-coaster ride full of unexpected ups and downs. It sounds like yours were mostly ups, so congratulations.

I’m flirting with retirement myself and struggling with it. I’m lucky to have enough saved up that I could easily do it. But the thought of not building something and not working toward the next big challenge that makes a difference doesn’t appeal to me.

I always planned for retirement in the sense of setting money aside, but I never thought much about it. I suppose, in the back of my mind, I thought the day would come when I’d set a date, give notice at work, have a big going away party, and happily dance off into a world of perpetual summer vacation.

Unfortunately, the last few years were filled with unexpectedly wacky CEOs, a university dean with dementia, and corporate vice presidents with psychopathic tendencies.

On top of that has been the whole disruption of covid-related furloughs and isolation, new jobs, and finally, expanding my own shop as a way to ease into retirement by only taking the projects I wanted.

In other words, there’s been no planned rite of passage that separates work from retirement. A couple of weeks ago, a former client who recently sold his 3D research business to AutoDesk approached me with a serious offer to go into business with him and buy a local weekly newspaper of all things. Who knows? Maybe. It’s a mixed-up time.

Oh, make no mistake I had many bumps in the road, including four recession periods, but for me it was paying attention to signs along the way. That kept me from making too many (emphasis on too many) mistakes. But yes, I have been greatly blessed. (God knows I’m not super smart, just blessed.)

I hear you loud and clear, B—The worst of my experience were two clients who actually tried to blame me for the fact that one of their big projects failed—even though I warned them explicitly that they WOULD FAIL!—Then they tried to blackout of paying me for NOT following my advice. And another one for whom I created a killer ad campaign that was highly successful, but said he fired the Manager (for whatever reason) who signed off on the job and since his Manager was supposed to pay me, he was not responsible. Needless to say, it pays to have a Mad Dog Attorney on your side! And I dumped these guys quicker than a cat that lands on a hot stove.

I sometimes wish I’d pursued the metals classes I took in college 20 years ago. Or pottery. Interestingly, I was recently at an art fair and when the thought again came to mind, I decided I wouldn’t want to sit in a booth every weekend trying to sell my wares. Graphic design’s not perfect, but in the end, I really do like my cozy home office.