A few days ago, we shared the portfolio of designer/illustrator Ash Thorp. Ash recently finished a year-long tour of duty at Prologue, where he crafted much of the stunning work featured on his site.
In our email conversations, Ash mentioned that while working at Prologue, he commuted daily from San Diego—a round trip of several hours, depending on California’s legendary traffic. This left little time for his wife and child at home, but Ash justified the schedule by thinking of it as his “year of complete potential.”
That phrase struck me. Did the year deliver? If so, now what? How do you shift down from high gear?
I turned these questions to Ash, and he shared his perspective on things. I think a lot of you will relate to much of what he says, regardless of the marital status and number of dependents you claim on your tax forms.
Balance — it’s so damn tricky. Especially for a person like me who is always driven and excited to push myself into change and unfamiliar territory just for the growth and the lesson. That’s living life to me.
It would be easy if I was single — in fact it would be crazy easy, if I was only caring for myself and only concerned with my own wants and needs. Having a family is pretty easy; having a family and actually caring and loving your family is a completely different dynamic.
I try my best to be the best at everything I do in life, as there are no other options in my mind. That mentality is great at times, but it often leaves me drained and unbalanced in a very bad way. I have friends who have lost years of their children’s growth due to the pull of work, and that frightens me.
Kids need their parents at an early age, it helps develop how they think and work. It’s a great responsibility to raise a solid human being and that just breaks down to time. Almost everything in life can be remedied with time, and a good family needs lots of it.
Tell us more about your “year of complete potential.”
My year of complete potential was my way of looking at the pain and suffering I put my family through as a way of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It was a way of knowing that this sacrifice was going to yield great results.
It was my choice to work for Prologue and commute 7 to 8 hours a day and work 10 to 11 hours at the studio. Weekends were my only time to sleep and spend time with my family. It was my choice to believe in my abilities and know that a greater good would come of all the sacrifice. I always remind myself that with greater sacrifice comes greater reward.
I kept my heart as pure as I could and my intent on my work. I took on every job I could get my hands on to the point where people would shoo me away and tell me to slow down. I was on a mission.
Last year has set contrast for the rest of my life. I know now what I am made of and how far I can push myself. I could probably go further, but it would break my family and behind every great man is his family. I can’t break that bond.
So was it worth it?
Last year really did deliver. I choose to be positive — with the commute, the distance, the stress. I take on every job and challenge with a smile and did my best wholeheartedly. I think it showed.
I made amazing friendships with the people I worked along side at the studio. I’m so thankful for those who opened their hearts and homes to me on days I couldn’t get back home. You know who you are.
So what’s next?
The future to me is to be able to work with people I care about or want to help grow. I want to help clients or others with projects I feel strongly about or have a passion to work with. And I want to do this all while spending as much time as possible with my wife and 6 year-old daughter. It is a constant balancing act, and the key is an equal amount of all the ingredients.
Due to the fact that our career paths are so organic and subjective, time means nothing really and due dates mean nothing as there is no time on creativity. The time it takes to either make a million dollar idea or a million dollar wasted idea is really unknown.
Trying to control that factor will make one crazy; the best thing to do is to keep an open communication with those you love and make sure they are aware of what it is that life is demanding of you and to make sure they acknowledge that and support it, so that you can focus on the task at hand.
Was it hard leaving Prologue?
It was a bit of a shock to leave Prologue. I had a week or two where I was in real rare form, depressed, exhausted, not wanting to do anything but sleep and complain about things. I think that was a sign that my body and mind had had enough. I was getting concerned that it was getting worse.
Then, I just took control of my emotions and reminded myself of the amazing life and world I live in and to be thankful for everything around me, especially the people. Working those very long days at Prologue and commuting so far really changed a part of my personality, I feel, for the better and the worse.
Any last words for our readers?
With every sacrifice comes a great reward. I try to view my life with a positive perspective, to keep all my pieces together and in a row.
Life is what you make it and happiness is a choice. If you have a dream, no matter how big, obtain it and enjoy every second of it.
I also want to give a shout out to my amazing wife, my daughter, family and friends who I adore and who have been there supporting me through everything.