Enrollment Update: Preview fall adult courses and register for remaining summer courses now. Browse all

Cultivating Success From a Creative Career Change

October 7, 2019

Making a career change isn’t always easy, but this Manhattan mom reminds us of the reward for following your passion. 

Carly Grimes is no stranger to adventure. To reacquaint herself with a love of art and creativity, Carly enrolled in the Graphic & Digital Design certificate program. Learn more about her decision to continue her education and how this led her down the path to launch the travel and adventure series, Travel With Me & See.

1. Tell us a little about yourself. 

I was born and raised outside of Detroit, MI, with keen interests in art, fashion, and all things sports. Upon graduating college from Northwood University with a degree in Fashion Marketing & Business Management, I worked for my dream company, Nike, where I got the opportunity to travel around the world and work on projects for some of my favorite athletes (Serena Williams & Maria Sharapova are at the top of that list). I lived in Portland, Moscow, Toronto, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Seattle and added two adventurous kids along the way. Going back to school at The New School for graphic & digital design was a wonderful balancing act when living as an at-home mom in NYC. I was looking to continue my love for the arts while being a full-time mom for my young kids, and The New School helped me gain the experience I needed to make a career change into a more creative field.

2. How were your classes? 

Between the classes offered, talented professors, and creative energy of the students around me, there wasn't a class I didn't enjoy. I feel I grew the most when I took classes on campus that allowed me to interact with the professors in the classroom and share learning tips with fellow students. The classes in the lab were critical for my growth, but personally I continue to work more comfortably when it is primarily free-hand.

I learned that tracing paper and a Lightbox are a must! I used to think that using tracing paper and a Lightbox was sort of like cheating but it’s definitely not when you are tracing your own work! I have gone through SO much tracing paper and mastered many more drawings after I learned this magical industry secret! I learned this in the first class I had, Intro to Graphic Design. Several years later, I was applying this technique when drawing our children's book character, B and her pal, Little Dove. 

Through each course at The New School, I not only enjoyed the classroom experience from the teachers, but I also enjoyed the interaction with my peers. Sharing homework became one of my favorite things about going back to school. Instead of just turning in homework and anxiously awaiting feedback or a grade, I looked forward to the roundtable approach when sharing homework with my peers as well as the teacher. These reviews ended up fueling me to rethink what I was going to turn in, as well as rework things I already turned in. I truly believe this roundtable approach best emulates how healthy workplace environments should and can work. Specifically, when working out themes through our Travel with Me & See series with my co-explorer, Nancy, we use this collaborative approach to work through ideas.

The most important takeaway from attending Continuing Education at The New School is how we can continue to collaborate to create something truly unique. For me, going back to school as an adult was the best investment I could have done for my future. The New School gave me access to classes and teachers that were so hands on and thorough, I believe this took me to a new level of creativity I didn't realize I had. I am forever grateful for the thoughtful courses offered at Continuing Education, the experienced teachers, and even the homework!

3. Tell us about life after the program. 

Just a couple years after the program and meeting my business partner, Nancy, in Seattle, has rekindled my love of drawing and given me the opportunity to become a co-explorer/illustrator and launch a children's travel adventure series. I believe the tools, courses, professors and all the homework in the Continuing Education program gave me the confidence I needed to take this collaboration on. In particular, the most helpful thing about The New School is the professors. They are not only teachers, but working professionals with a lot of experience to pass on.

The stars aligned for our adventure series, Travel with Me & See, to become a published work when I met Nancy (my co-explorer and the author) through my daughter’s Kindergarten class in Seattle. With similar interests and experiences living overseas, we became fast friends, and Nancy asked me to partner up after seeing me doodle a small cartoon I posted on Instagram. Since that moment, we have been fulfilling our childhood dreams to publish a children's book and loving our new partnership!

4. How did your interest in children’s literature and publishing grow, and how does it feel to have published work out there for the world to see?

It feels incredibly liberating to have published a book series and to be selling on Amazon. Growing up and through my adult years, I have really struggled with reading and writing so to be a part of this process and taking on the task of self-publishing has been gratifying.

5. Any advice for aspiring graphic designers?

Imagine the unimaginable and start from there. You can truly do ANYTHING when you take one step at a time.

6. What are your plans from here? 

Lots of travel and adventure with my kids (and co-explorers) to keep working on our series. So far we have published our first book, set in Paris, and we are in the middle of our second book, which is set in London. We are dreaming big on all the possibilities and connection points to build this into a brand. Now, I just need to follow my own advice and take one step at a time while enjoying the ride!


Written by Casey O’Connell.

Required fields are indicated by .