The Child Within

2016 was a rough year but also a turning point in my design career. I was unsatisfied with my work. I couldn’t land the gigs I wanted. Just opening Photoshop made me anxious. Long story short I was unhappy, burnt out, and insecure. Then I discovered Learn Squared and everything changed.

See, as a kid, I wanted to become a veterinarian at the World Wildlife Fund. Cousteau was my hero and animals my passion. I would consume encyclopedias on the subject like candies, made songs to memorize spiders and other bugs by their scientific name — which I can still sing accurately, and more importantly, I would draw. A ton! It consumed me and I loved it.

As my passion for art grew, I discovered graphic design. I was hooked! Posters, flyers, billboards and magazines. I collected them all! I would have photography, typography, and illustration for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Personal projects turned into freelance work. And freelance work led to permanent positions. I swapped my veterinarian dreams for a career in design.

Somewhere along the way though, I lost my spark. I was truly unhappy so I decided to take a break from all my freelance work to focus on finding a way out of my situation. After countless hours of self-help books, brain dump exercises, and a lot of browsing, I stumbled on an illustration that would change it all.

The cover art of Ash Thorp’s UI and Data Design for Film course

When I saw Ash Thorp’s illustration, I couldn’t understand it. You see, at the time, I had never seen any work like this from a graphic designer. Some quick research led me to Ash’s amazing work and his course — UI and Data Design for Film — on Learn Squared, an online art education platform catering to the film and games industry, and from there all hell broke loose.

As I made my way through the course, I learned about the fascinating world of concept and entertainment design while making new connections within its many communities. I got familiar with a whole industry parallel to mine. I felt my curiosity reignite and my motivation soar. I began to create again.

Fast forward to today, I’ve helped design impactful projects and national campaigns that have improved the lives of millions of Canadian workers. I joined Learn Squared — a platform that I love, and for which I have now developed dozens of amazing courses. I interact every day with world-class artists that contribute to blockbuster movies and AAA games that impact generations.

I often wonder though how different my circumstances would be if I hadn’t done that hard work. If I had missed reconnecting with my inner child and had committed to a life devoid of curiosity and empty of dreams. Surely this story would have a whole different outcome.

Have you ever had a similar experience?

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Mohamed Thiam

Pragmatic dreamer ✨ Joy harvester 🎨 I bust the myth of the ‘hungry artist’ by coaching creatives to turn their knowledge into profitable online courses.