I have always been an artist. Before I could walk, before I could talk, I could draw. My parents have boxes and folders and drawers full of my earliest doodles — most done on letterhead from my dad’s financial planning firm and in my preferred medium: crayon. In my elementary years, paints and pencils replaced Nintendo and Nickelodeon. As a teenager, I was more interested in Bristol paper than boys. I spent nights studying shadows cast on fruit and cloth, not sneaking out of my bedroom window. I was the kid who stayed in the art studio long after class dismissed.
My life changed in 2006. I was seventeen years old, two weeks into my senior year of high school, when I was raped by a stranger. My parents drove me to the police station that night to report the assault. My body still shaking, my mind scrambled, I described the attack to the man in uniform. Then I took the pencil from him and started drawing.
I drew that face. I drew those dark eyes that had locked on mine. The eyebrows, the goatee, the short hair.
The power of this moment was lost on me, even though I had spent my entire life preparing for it. In a single night, ten thousand hours of passion became purpose.
In August of the following year, I moved to New York City. The event that defined my senior year of high school faded away. New adventures and a quintessentially collegiate social life drowned out the noise of my trauma. I began producing music.
In 2010, I met my friend and future business partner. She was a year older and a foot shorter. She worked full time at a record label, spearheading digital marketing campaigns for bands and artists. We shared a love of frozen yogurt and early 2000s pop music. We started making music as a duo a few days after we met.
The lure of New York City evaporated as our vision became clearer. We worked feverishly to build our catalogue as producers, often hovering around a computer until the early hours of the morning. We bought turntables and taught ourselves how to DJ. We branded ourselves, both figuratively and literally, by creating a name and logo and tattooing it permanently on our wrists. The Jane Doze was born.
We spent the next 5 years DJing all over the world: from Barcelona to Mexico City to Seattle. We walked red carpets, appeared in magazines, signed autographs, fielded two reality TV show offers, played music for thousands of people, and ate plenty of frozen yogurt.
As time passed, creative differences bore an unbridgeable rift. In late 2015 we disbanded. I spent the following year working dead-end jobs in New York City, struggling to make ends meet. In September of 2016, after nine years in Manhattan, I packed up and moved home to Pennsylvania. I needed to breathe, to pause, to discover the way forward. I moved back into my childhood bedroom, in that house, on that street, where exactly ten years earlier I had looked my future in the eye.
After a decade hiatus, I picked up a pencil and started to draw.