‘Champagne and Wax Crayons’ by Ben Tallon

Champagne and Wax CrayonsBeing creative is a blessing and a curse. Sometimes I can’t tell if I’m trying too hard or if I’m lazy, but such is the doubt that comes hand in hand with creativity. Pursuing a creative career can be much harder than working your way up the ladder of 9 to 5’s. There is no set route, no guidelines, nobody setting you tasks, nobody setting you goals. It is such unknown, ever-changing territory, and there are never two stories the same from those who have been successful at making their passion their livelihood; a sure-fire strategy doesn’t exist. From a more positive angle, there is no right or wrong in the creative industries, and you are in charge of your art and your hours, and that is all part of the dream. So it depends how you look at it.

Ben Tallon’s first book, Champagne and Wax Crayons, is an autobiography starting from childhood, about how he got to make a good living from freelance illustration, managed to tick off his ultimate client bucket list within three years of graduation, and why we must value the journey just as much, if not more, than reaching our destination. At the end of each chapter is a list entitled “What I’ve Learnt”, summarising the key lessons of each stage in Tallon’s life, and every single one is invaluable. This book came to me exactly when I needed it. I had actually purchased Susan Jeffers Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway on my kindle the night before – so you can guess the kind of mindset I’ve been in recently. I got as far as the third chapter, feeling just as hopeless. When you’re at the stage of purchasing self-help books in early hours of the morning, it’s hard to take the suggestion of post-it-noting your entire home with inspirational reminders seriously. My cynicism levels went through the roof.

Champagne and Wax Crayons has given me clarity and courage about taking the road less trodden. It is absolutely honest, which is what makes it so useful, as well as endearing. It presents the reality of sacrifice and how, actually, that is one of the greatest parts of the endeavour. There is deep satisfaction to be found in the obsessiveness and the struggle, and you’re not crazy to think so, too. The book teaches the same mantra as Susan Jeffer’s, to feel the fear and do it anyway, but it does so implicitly and thoughtfully, through real-life, tried and tested experience. It suggests that the key to progressing in your creative pursuit is to simplify things as much as possible. Follow your nose as opposed to the target, as long as you’re enjoying yourself. Enjoy it, enjoy it, enjoy it. And above all else, thank you, Ben, for the reminder: it is okay that you do not know what you’re doing. Nobody else does either.

Work/Life Experience at GLAMOUR Magazine: Fashion Career Advice “to all struggling fashionistas”

You hear over and over, “follow your passion, be true to yourself”, and frankly I am done with such phrases. What if you don’t yet know your exact passion? What if you don’t yet feel that you absolutely know your “self”, and you’re not convinced that it’s even possible? Because your “self” is always growing and changing, and you’re pretty sure that you were channeling Jessica Rabbit yesterday but have woken up this morning 100% Coachella-chic? It is difficult to be in limbo. Even if you’re failing at doing something, well – at least you’re definitely doing it.

What I know for certain is that I love fashion, truly, madly, deeply, and that as I stare hopelessly into glossy mag editorials and at online snaps of catwalk looks, I am my most inspired. But it’s all very vague. Where do I go from here? At my graduation, as I shook the hand of the university chancellor on stage in front of hundreds, she asked me, “What do you plan to do with your English degree?” My answer?: “Fashion!” Oh, Yasmin. How do you do fashion? She summed it all up in her reply, “That’s an interesting development”.

My work experience at GLAMOUR was one of the steps I took in trying to pinpoint how exactly I was going to “do” fashion. I’ve always read GLAMOUR, and the chance to become a part of the UK’s number one women’s magazine cannot be topped, so, I jumped on the opportunity to temporarily join the team. And the time I spent with them ended up being a much-welcomed eye-opener.

GLAMOUR creates for their reader, first and foremost. They don’t throw whatever they fancy in; they are always considering their audience. This has forced me to look at my own ambitions from another viewpoint. The question isn’t “What do I want to do?”, it’s actually, “What do I want to do for others? What can I offer them?” I don’t mean you should compromise on your vision to please everyone else. I’m saying consider the wider perspective. I’ve realised I will never find fulfillment if my purpose is directed nothing but inward. “I want to create for myself” versus “I want other people to recognise and be effected by this creation”. Which one will take you further?

Sitting in the GLAMOUR office, observing the team, and partaking in their creation of a magazine for the outside world, a world that rushed obliviously past their huge first-floor windows, was quietly inspiring. My experience with them, short but sweet, shook me a bit from my anti-climatic, “just-graduated” stupor. The copious amount of mail, product samples and event invites that the team receives each day is just one example of the fast pace of the industry. As I handed each parcel and envelope out around the office, as I transcribed interviews with globally successful actors, writers and icons, I was reminded that there is a lot more going on than totaljobs.com, perfecting our CV’s and making ourselves as “employable” as possible.

Although I haven’t exactly set myself up as a girl to take life-tips from, can I suggest: don’t worry so much about identifying your passion, or your “self”. Spend your energy ensuring that whatever you’re doing gives you a purpose that you believe in. It doesn’t have to be curing world hunger, however, if that is your purpose, please go head forth as soon as you can. I’ve done my best to quit the mindset that I am in a “limbo” state, and instead repeat the words of poet Ahunnaya, “I’m not lost, I’m on my way”. GLAMOUR was a stop off along that way; I had a wonderful time there with a wonderful team. To all struggling fashionistas, beauty product hoarders, writers, artists, unfocused and frustrated drifters – you are not lost, you’re on your way.

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