My car was broken down at the time and my friend Neill offered to drive me. As I was getting dressed I tried on a few conservative looks I had worn to the other interviews. Nothing felt right. I hadn't had any luck before so I wanted to take a risk this time. I decided to change into a bohemian shirt with a lovely blue trim and some sequin accents. When Neill came to pick me up he raised an eyebrow at my unconventional attire.
"Are you sure you want to wear that?"
"Yes" I said with confidence. "I've got a good feeling about this."
He drove me to the interview destination which was Dandelion Tea. I had never been before and I was expecting a formal restaurant. Dandelion was a small, bright green cafe tucked inside a renovated house. Neill said he would wait for my interview to be done and I headed inside.
I got their before Mariko and nervously thumbed through my portfolio while I waited. When she arrived I was surprised to find out that she was only a few years older than me. She was very nice, she asked me more questions about myself than anyone else I had interviewed with. She bought my food and took time going over my portfolio with me.
At the end of the interview she said that she would like to work with me. We made plans to meet again and I ran out to Neill's car. I was so happy I startled him from his nap.
"What? What's wrong? Did you get it?" he asked as he adjusted his seat back up.
"I GOT IT! I GOT IT!" I remember smiling from ear to ear.
It was an unusual project to say the least. There were late night meetings in backyards of people I had never met. I was spay painting canvas and rolling up plastic tarps. I was holding props and learning to listen for my cues which were timed to music. I remember not having any idea what I was doing. This had nothing to do with graphic design. But everyone I met was nice and the project seemed interesting so I decided to stick it out.
We were actually getting ready for our performance in the 2008 Orlando Fringe Festival. I had never been until that year so I didn't realize what a big deal it was until I was knee deep. We had one of the most complex set ups that had ever been at the Fringe Festival, and we couldn't get a drop of paint anywhere. I always had a towel with me just in case I spotted any stray drops. Everyday we had to move an enormous thirteen foot tall waterfall box in and out of the venue.
Once the performance started I had a hard time keeping up with my cues. By now I knew where they were but I was so enthralled by the performance that it was hard to pull myself away. Up until then I had only seen bits and pieces of the show, but now I was able to see how everything fit together and it was beautiful. Watching the excitement the audiences faces was extremely rewarding. I remember actually being happy to take dirty towels home from the show to wash them. I knew that if I was this happy doing laundry that this was something I need to stay involved in.
At the end of our run at the Fringe Festival Mariko thanked me for all of my help. I just remember looking at her and saying "You will never be rid of me". And I am proud to say that I have been with DRIP since that day. Now, aside from Mariko, I have been with the company the longest.
It took me a while but I found that one of the reasons I fell in love with DRIP was deeply rooted in my childhood. When I was younger I used to try to choreograph dances and plays to music with my younger siblings. As I got older I moved into other types of art. I almost forgot those childhood plays until years later when I found DRIP. In an unusual coincidence, I discovered that Mariko actually did the same thing with her siblings when she was younger.
I had also been through a rough year before joining DRIP and I recall that being a part of that production was one of the first times I had felt truly happy in a long time. That experience was also part of the inspiration for my tattoo. I wanted something to commemorate that for the first time in my life I felt like part of an artistic community. I have six hands done in the style of those found on cave paintings on my right shoulder. It reminds me of the connection I share with all artist who have come before me.
From that show at the Fringe Festival it has been about six years to get our own venue on International Drive. I can't express to you how good it feels to finally be open.
Light illuminating the smoke for our show.
Dancers waiting in their places during one of the shows performances.
Jessie splashing in water coming from one of the chandeliers.
Jessie performing in a piece called "Cleanse".
The rainbow of colors left on the floor after the show.
People often ask me if I do any graphic design anymore. I would have to say no. I am immensely proud of what I was able to accomplish at the University of Central Florida and I have absolutely no regrets. I still use all of the knowledge I acquired even if it doesn't manifest in a traditional way. I have always loved art and I realized that as long as I am still making it I will be happy.
I think that one of my greatest strengths is my ability to follow my instincts. Those instincts have let me to create my website, work with DRIP, and grow as an artist as well as an individual beyond anything I thought I could do. I am so glad that I let myself explore instead of following a narrow path. I firmly believe that the rewards are great if you take risks to do what you love. I have more than I ever thought I would and I owe it all to being open.