SCAD Connector Feature: Don’t quit your day job

Nothing is more refreshing than someone who loves what they do. Charlie Bates, author, illustrator and senior manager at 360 Marketing for Cartoon Network, visited Ivy Hall on Sept. 29. He not only shared insights on how to survive and thrive in a creative field, but on how students can maintain their passion while working a day job that is equally as motivating.

Perseverance is one of the things that Bates believes allowed him to have such a long-lasting career as an artist. Before working at Cartoon Network, Bates worked in game development and drew comics. Although never straying too far from what he enjoyed most, he made it clear that he never feared trying something new.

“I think it can only help if you try different types of things. This is one of the benefits I found during my game development days,” Bates said.

“Having to write those rules systems, which is more technical writing, that helps to clarify your thoughts. Because you have to think if this situation happens, then what occurs? Which you can then use in writing creatively, because you can think about motivations and cause and effect.”

One of the hardest lessons to learn as an artist is how to hear the word no. Being able to take rejection well and listen to criticism is monumental in moving forward professionally.

“Get used to rejection but don’t let it defeat you. It is the nature of life that you are going to fail a bunch in different degrees,” Bates said. “To be able to not take it personally or at least not let it stay with you on a personal level is huge. Be able to take criticism, but stick to your guns if you feel strongly about it, hold on to your own integrity and ability, knowing what value you have.”

Bates is not only passionate about his art, writing fiction and illustrating, but he is excited about the the job that keeps his dog taken care of and food on the table: his job as a marketer.

“As long as what I’m doing is fulfilling and hopefully other people are getting something out of it in some degree, as much as I used to resist saying I’m a marketer, I enjoy it and I think I do well at it,” Bates said. “The key is to continue to do my first love which is why I continue to do my own creative projects.”

When talking to an artist, the idea of working a nine-to-five always seems like a last resort; they can’t wait till they “make it” so they can focus on their art and quit their job. But Bates’ day job inspires his creative side, and vice versa.

“The marketing side has helped me to express creative concepts and to drill down into what’s different. For instance, my comic, I have revamped over the past year about four different times,” Bates said. “I’d set it aside and come back to it with fresh eyes and I do this with marketing, too. I take a hard look at it and say okay, what doesn’t work? It has been really helpful in both cases. I’m able to bring creativity to the marketing side and the marketing side has helped me to refine and better express my ideas.”

Everyone strives to find a job that they actually want to wake up and peel themselves out of bed for everyday. Bates seems to have found it, but not without a little trial and error.

“If could talk to my younger self I would say, it’s okay to take chances, it’s okay to take risks, just be smart about it,” Bates said. “You should get a thrill out of what you are doing. If you’re not, then take a hard look at why. It’s too easy to be unhappy, but it’s also way too easy to be happy to let yourself get stuck.”

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