Poet Charles Bukowski said, “Find something you love, and let it kill you.” Bukowski was no stranger to working hard for what he loved, and in the end, it may have indeed killed him.
As a fellow writer and artist, I struggle everyday to stay on top. Society conditions people to pursue their dreams and shoot for the stars, but people must also be practical. A single week in my life is complicated so I have learned that pushing my limits is the only way to be successful.
I am taking five college classes — three on the Westminster campus, one on the Boulder County campus, and one on the Larimer campus. I also work two jobs on the Westminster campus as a lead graphic designer for the Stall Street Journal and as a staff writer for The Front Page. I also have my own freelance photography business that occupies my nights and weekends. I work 60 to 80-hour weeks. The key to being successful is time management. Each morning I create a list of tasks to complete that day.
I do two things on Sunday that make the rest of the week much easier. First, I do all of my homework for the week. Being in class or at work all day means I’m exhausted when I get home for the night. Having my work done early means that I can relax or focus on freelance projects.
Second, I go grocery shopping and cook meals for the entire week. I don’t have any spare time at night after class, so having meals prepared means coming home, re-heating a meal in minutes, and getting back to work again rather than spending my time cooking. I write extensive schedules in my smartphone and my regular calendar. The more I plan and manage my time, the more time I seem to have.
I have an Adobe Illustrator class on the Westminster campus and a typography class on the Boulder County campus, both four-hours long and back-to-back. I always bring a snack and something to drink to give me some energy. The Boulder County campus café has a great selection of affordable snacks and drinks if I forget to pack my own.
Tuesday: Work Day
The Student Life Graphic Design team meets at 9 a.m. on the Westminster campus to discuss working projects and new ideas. I am currently in charge of designing and writing copy for the Stall Street Journal as well as designing the Student Life events calendar. I have learned to ask for feedback on my work because it improves each time someone reviews it.
Wednesday: Class Day
On Wednesday, I stay on the Westminster campus for two more back-to-back, four-hour classes from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. I like to arrive early to either catch up on work or to meet with professors or people on campus.
I prefer talking to my professors in person rather than through email. It helps me get a feel for their personalities and their expectations. Plus, showing initiative earns me some guaranteed brownie points.
Before my night class on Photoshop 2, I have an hour-long break to quickly eat a packed dinner. I always eat before my night class because having high energy in a class that goes until 9:30 p.m. is essential for maintaining focus.
Thursday is another work day on the Westminster campus. I have an editorial meeting at 10:30a.m. for The Front Page. Every week, I write an article for the newspaper which is due Thursday at midnight. Once I finish my article, I catch up on my design work and start preparations for my freelance gigs on the weekend.
Friday: Fort Collins
On Fridays, I commute to Fort Collins for a graphic design class with the previous Art Director of CSU, Dale Rosenbach. This class is incredible, not only because of the information, but also because of Professor Rosenbach. He has connections to people who do the kind of work that I want to do. Once again, developing relationships with my professors is advantageous.
Saturday: Fun Work
In order to have fun, stay sharp and meet new people, I photograph concerts. I shoot for a media outlet called Grateful Web, based in Boulder. Roughly once or twice a week, I get invited to shoot for shows in Denver, Fort Collins or Boulder. On Feb. 20 and 21, Logic, a hip-hop artist, will be playing the Ogden Theater in Denver.
A few years ago, while attending a show in Atlanta, GA, I met a lighting designer who was running house lights at the legendary Tabernacle. We became friends and stayed in contact and then he moved to Denver. He now does Lighting Design for Logic, so I got the opportunity to photograph his show for my portfolio. Forming interpersonal connections with people has countless benefits.
Since the Logic show on Saturday starts at 9 p.m., I will spend my free time outdoors or with family and friends. It is incredibly important to make time for things outside of work. Even though I love the work I do, I need breaks. I set aside time to do nothing; it helps me prioritize what I really need to do.
People often ask me when I sleep or how I do what I do. My answer is simple: If it’s important to me, I make time for it.
I am constantly surprised that I can handle much more than I think that I can. It’s a lesson that I wish I had learned when I was younger. The more I do, the more I push myself to grow. The more I learn, the happier I become.
It’s easy for people to sit back and let life just push them along. Unfortunately, that seldom gets them where they want to be. Like Mr. Bukowski, I intend on pursuing what I love, and living a life of passion.
Written by Christopher Kemp
Photo by Christopher Kemp