How Your Artistic Passions Can Fuel Your Professional Success

My love of music, at home and at work

For a long time, I felt a little insecure around the question, "What are you passionate about?" Reason being, that question is always answered better by a very singularly obsessed person. This person lives, breathes and will die for what they do, and that insanity is interesting, even charming. The thing is, I've never felt that extreme. I feel passionate about a number of things: music definitely, but also friends, family, food, physical and mental health, the environment. I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that I can sacrifice a little gung-ho-ness and be OK with putting energies in a few directions. Does it have to be a "ride or die"? What about a "ride or a nice stroll"? You can take a little pressure off when you stop trying to lean into one end-all-be-all passion and lean into your interests in ways that work for and inspire you.

I didn't major in music history or music production; hell, I was a horrible violin player growing up. I studied political science with an emphasis in international relations with a minor in French. Once I realized I had no intention of becoming a lawyer or a French diplomat, I took very large and fearful steps back to figure out what mattered to me, what really interested me, and what I'd like to build a career around. And music, that glorious siren, reared her head.    

With music being as subjective as it is, every individual perspective is valuable. One's own taste and instincts are 100 percent relevant and even an essential angle to view things from. Everyone on our team has different tastes, and that's incredibly helpful, because so do the people we work with.

The beautiful thing about working in a creative industry is that you're fueled by the creative passion of everyone around you. We work with so many different artists from all over the world, it would be an incredible hodgepodge if you managed to get them all into one room together. What we have in common is so much greater than our differences. We've all pursued music as our careers. Music: the career that will chew you up and spit you out, apologize, cook you dinner, and then lock you out. One of our in-house composers at Barking Owl recently told me that he intends to keep his 1-year-old daughter away from the music life, to spare her the hardship. I couldn't help but laugh; as if that little girl growing up surrounded by good tunes and a million instruments isn't going to fall madly in love with music herself. But that's what's so incredible about it all. When your day-to-day interactions are with people who follow their passions, it rubs off on you. Their brightness and determination counteract the dullness of the daily grind. 

For me, artistic passion plays two parts. First, it's both a source of grounding and inspiration in the day-to-day. Music that you play at home in cozy mode after a draining day, tunes for the subway, music for walking on the daily commute, embarrassing running music, music that you cook to, music that you play when friends are over … These seemingly mundane daily experiences help to maintain artistic passion, and in turn, that passion maintains you.

Second, artistic passion allows us to maintain curiosity. Anyone working in advertising is familiar with the quick pace and multitasking. It would be easy to skip past a few things in the bustle … especially a 15-minute reference video. But it's the curiosity that keeps you engaged; listening to that score you'd never heard before or that artist that had never crossed your path or watching that eye-opening little short for the first time.

I've realized that trusting my instincts to explore the things that feed my curiosity and inspire me in whatever way, shape or form, has propelled my growth both at Barking Owl and within this industry. If you're continuing to diversify your own perspective, and soak in everything you can learn along the way, all the better. It's like the roots and limbs: part to keep you standing and part to keep you growing.

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