We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicole Blanchard and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nicole, is there something you believe many others might not?
Honestly, the classic “you can do anything you set your mind to” I believe to be tone deaf and out of date in many respects.
Having dreams and aspirations is important, but feeding into the idea that you can just somehow be successful at something simply because you try is a nicely fabricated lie that doesn’t actually help anyone — especially those looking to enter an “unconventional” career path. People are much better off and far better prepared if they know what their limitations are, what they need help with, and what obstructs them from the same opportunities as others in their shared field of work. Not everyone is given the same starting point and resources; this is especially true when talking about marginalized groups.
It also tends to feed into this idea unintentionally that if you somehow can’t manage to do something, that it’s inherently your fault as you were not “trying hard enough.” When in reality, sometimes that’s just the role of the dice. And that’s okay. People’s paths can change.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Working in a creative field isn’t easy; anyone who says it is isn’t being entirely honest with their audience. Like with most unconventional career paths, it’s super easy to be overlooked and slide under the radar. You blend in with the crowd quite easily on the surface.
What helps to keep one busy and motivated is consistent self-promotion and interpersonal relationships. Talking to people is going to be a creative’s greatest tool, but the tricky part is remaining true to yourself and genuine in your connection with others. The way to go about it is to simply just find people you enjoy being around or have shared interests with, everything else will come naturally in time. College, your day job, or even fandom spaces can be great places to start finding where you fit.
That being said, despite it being the most accessible “tool,” talking to people has never come naturally to me as I am content with my own company. Social situations are one of the places I feel most out of my element, and I find it hard to talk to others as I can never quite place what “rules” I should be following at any given time. For many years, I kind of just kept to myself and did my own thing, but in hindsight that definitely gave me a late start compared to many others. But better late than never!
Which is a good lesson to learn: everyone has their own pace. It’s no use comparing your journey to the people around you too heavily. You will be ready, when you’re ready. And if you feel like you never are, but come across a fantastic opportunity? Just go for it. Most of us don’t actually know what we’re doing and kind of just make it up as we go along; and just because you don’t see your value, doesn’t mean others will have the same viewpoint. I got lucky with a situation like that, and now I’m growing a print service from the ground up for a set of franchised locations doing a lot of graphic design work despite most of my online portfolio being illustration based.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Considering that I am in my mid to late-twenties, there’s a few places I would take someone around simply due to the views you can come across. Hillcrest, Northpark, and Balboa Park in San Diego County are fantastic places to just sightsee: lots of beautiful murals, lots of greenery.
Hillcrest and Northpark are especially good for smaller family-owned businesses and thrift stores. You can run into a lot of unique and/or vintage things being sold, which make for great souvenirs.
And not far from there is Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo–which has been listed as one of the world’s best zoos to exist. Who doesn’t love animals?
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Interpersonal relationships are a key thing in creative fields, and for me it holds true especially. If it weren’t for the companionships I have made over the years, there’s many doors that would have not opened up for me in the slightest. It’s thanks to the support of friends who believe in the person behind the work that I have gotten this far.