For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be involved in some form of creative expression. I wasn’t sure exactly what that would look like, but I knew it would involve creating something. In high school, I began learning film photography and found it both fascinating and frustrating. On one hand, I loved the feeling of creating something out of nothing. On the other hand, I disliked the smell of the chemicals and the attention to detail required for chemical balances and enlargement precision. It was a lot of trial and error for me.
Around the same time that I started taking a film class, I also enrolled in a digital imaging class at my high school, which introduced me to the world of graphic design. This was around the time when point-and-shoot cameras were popular. It was through this class that I was introduced to Adobe Photoshop and became fascinated with it.
In 2004 I got my first digital camera, it was a canon SD 630 (a little point and shoot). I started with still life (taking pictures of objects, items and nature) still learning editing techniques so I mimicked what I saw in the movies with different color tones and moods.
I began comparing my photographs with those used in advertisements and in stores, and worked hard to improve my understanding of photography and editing software. At this time, MySpace was also very popular, and I was interested in customizing layouts, so I taught myself some basic coding skills. I started selling custom layouts to artists and friends. One of my friends was producing music for several local Bay Area artists, so we became a one-stop shop, with him providing the production and music and me providing the graphics for their website and MySpace.
As I gained more experience, artists, musicians, and clients began asking me to do more photoshoots, flyers, business cards, and album covers. In an effort to further sharpen my skills and expand my offerings, I took a few additional digital imaging classes at a local community college, Diablo Valley College, and discovered that I really enjoyed what I was doing.
I decided to invest in a new camera, a Canon Rebel XTi, and began taking more photos and promoting my skills. As I became more passionate about this field, I researched local vocational schools and ultimately chose Carrington College (formerly Western Career College) for their 18-month accelerated program in Graphic Communication, which covered print, film, and web design.
While attending college, I continued to take on new clients and network with artists, musicians, and business professionals, using my newly gained knowledge to improve my design and photography skills. Through my teacher Gene, who did graphics and signage for Bay Area companies and artists, I was introduced to The Federation and NUMP.
Starting around 2008, I took on various projects as a photographer and designer, including photoshoots, business cards, and signage. In 2009, I graduated with an Associate’s degree in Graphic Communications and landed my first job as a Media Developer. I actually found out about this job through a classmate who was interviewed but didn’t want the position. I seized the opportunity and applied, even though the role was slightly beyond my current skillset. I worked there for about three months and learned a lot, but eventually moved on.
In the next few years, I held various roles as a graphic designer, including positions at a production company in San Francisco, a small ad agency as a production coordinator, and a baby equipment company as a designer and photographer. I also spent some time working as a freelancer. In 2014, I saw a job posting for a graphic designer and applied. I’m happy to say that I am still with that company today, which is called Plexuss. You may or may not have heard of it.
At Plexuss, our mission is to support and guide students through the college process. We were founded by students, for students, with the goal of assisting in their educational journey.
Plexuss provides a range of tools and services including free homework & college help, 1-on-1 tutoring, college and university research tools, recurring scholarships, college and scholarship management, quizzes & assessments, and workshops.
Students can also network with each other, alumni, & college representatives.
The mission behind Plexuss has a special place in my heart. As a below average high school student I had no idea where to start when it came to preparing for colleges…
FAFSA, what’s that? Applying for scholarships, idk where to even start? Getting the best ROI when choosing a college? What’s ROI mean? SATs, ACTs?
— Teenager me
If Plexuss were around when I was a teenager, I am confident I could have unlocked many more opportunities and made even more connections, but as they say hindsight is 20/20. Which leads us back to the title of this article: Finding your passion.
If you find a hobby that you really enjoy, like painting or gardening, stick with it and continue to pursue it even if it’s challenging at times. It’s important to have activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.
If you discover a career path that aligns with your values and interests, don’t be afraid to pursue it wholeheartedly. Remember that following your passions can lead to a more fulfilling and rewarding professional life.
And with that I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes:
If you made it this far thank you for taking the time to read!
If you are a student or know someone who is seeking additional assistance in their college journey, consider visiting www.Plexuss.com
You can view my photography → www.nicholasnuyten.com