We’ve got a treat for you this afternoon as we welcome, not one, but two exciting creatives to the blog! Enter our pals Laura Tobin and Imogen Leonard aka Point of You Magazine. Like The Creative Occupation (and founded in the same month, as it happens!), PofY is an inspiring community dedicated to celebrating and empowering creatives. Acting on their ‘shared passion for feminism, uplifting others and creativity’, PofY was founded to support she/they creatives… which we’re here for, given that women are underrepresented in the creative and cultural industries, particularly in senior decision-making roles1. In this bumper feature, learn more about the gals behind the mag. From Laura’s courageous choice to take a different path to that of her peers, to Imogen’s decision to put herself first by leaving the job she’d settled for. This one is full of gems! Ok, let’s get into it…
What’s your creative occupation?
At the moment, I don’t really have a “creative occupation” but rather I am a Barista by day and a creative juggler by night. I like to say I am a creative juggler because it is definitely easier than saying I am a small business owner, photography graduate, designer, curator and Co-Founder of Point of You. My main creative role is interviewing and creating for Point of You.
I’m a Scottish freelance illustrator and creative based in Glasgow. I just started a new job as a Content Manager for a family-run Glasgow business. Everything’s very new and refreshing right now. I’ve been illustrating since the summer lockdown in 2020 so it’s something I’m very much still trying to find my identity with.
Where have you been?
Well, geographically, I have been in Glasgow, however, in terms of my creative journey, I have been here, there and everywhere haha!
Last year, I graduated from studying Photography at Edinburgh Napier University and after studying for four years, I discovered that photography wasn’t my main area of interest. I wasn’t sure what creative direction I wanted to head in after graduating. So, instead of jumping straight into a creative role that I wasn’t 100% passionate about, I made the conscious decision to take a year or two out, get my barista training (this was something I had wanted for a while) and experiment, network and explore as much as I could before “settling down” in my first creative role.
I am so glad I made this decision, as not only am I happy in my barista job, I have also been getting my fingers into multiple different creative pies and I’ve been loving it! Since graduating in July 2021, I have had the opportunity to exhibit in Glasgow, start my own small business selling handmade notebooks, prints and cards, produce a few of my own projects which I am passionate about (and didn’t have time to pursue during my studies), and co-found the thing I am most proud of, Point of You.
With social media, it is so easy to see my old peers thriving in their photography careers, and I am so proud of them, but it sometimes leaves me wondering if that was the path I should have taken. However, deep down, I know that I made the best decision for me. Finding the courage to not follow the same path as my peers was scary, but I am proud of everything I have achieved in the last 7 months, and I know future Laura will be grateful that I took this time to do a little soul searching.
Ever since I was young I was always surrounded by pencils and paper, creating tiny intricate drawings (if you could call them that). My family are a very creative bunch from painters to photographers, and musicians, so they always encouraged my creativity. Growing up, my dream career switched from fashion design to photography but I decided my love for film was the strongest. I studied Film and Media at university, where I gained a newfound passion for the art of directing, European cinema and feminism. Since graduating in June 2021, I was looking for a full-time job to move out and start my proper ‘adult life’. I settled for one in retail for a couple of months but the burnout of having no time to be creative was killing my motivation. So I started looking for something I could use my skills in. I’m so much happier now working in a position where I feel like I can introduce my own ideas; use my initiative and creativity.
Where are you now?
I have come into 2022 feeling incredibly inspired and excited about what this year will bring, in terms of my career. This came from taking some time over the Christmas break to reflect, and (loosely) plan for the next year.
I went into the new year focussing a lot of my time on enhancing my online presence to hopefully bring about more opportunities. I have been sharing more of my projects, talking to like-minded creatives and getting involved in more online communities. I think that having a strong online presence (if you use it in a safe way) is so beneficial for emerging creatives as it is a great way to share and connect with others.
I have also been spending most of my free time curating, interviewing, doing the website design and producing Instagram content for Point of You. Of course, I have been obsessed with the platform Imogen and I have built since we launched it, however, these last two months, it has really become a huge part of my life (my boyfriend can confirm this, it is all I talk about, oops). A couple of weeks ago, I made a passing comment, without much thought, about how much I wish PofY could be my full time job, which led to an epiphany moment because… why couldn’t it be? Most, if not all, of my projects from the last two years surround curation and community; it is funny to me that it took this long to discover where my passions lie.
So, where am I right now? Honestly, I am a little overworked, overwhelmed and definitely drinking too much coffee, but I am having a lot of fun chatting to our weekly features, working on new projects and I am feeling very excited about the possibilities in my future.
Right now I am working on making time for my creativity, through the likes of getting back to illustrating, painting or going on a wander to take some film photos each week. Working in an environment where I felt I had no time for myself has really made it a priority for me. The fuel tank for my creativity is slowly but surely being refilled and I’m so excited to engage with illustrating again. At the end of last year I had the opportunity to design the front cover for Disgraceful Magazine, an amazing all women-run publication. Feminism and supporting all women is something very important to who I am, so I loved doing it. I would love to do more of that ilk so it’s an opportunity I’m seeking out right now.
Where are you going?
This is tricky as I try not to plan too far in the future – the pandemic has proven that anything can come and throw a spanner in the works. The last few weeks I have been applying for courses in Curatorial Practice, and exploring curation-based job roles within the UK, to highlight my options.
Strangely, after 17 years in education, my brain still thinks in academic years, and I am more concerned about what I will be doing when the new academic year starts (September time). I hope that by then, I will be working in the creative industries, or studying, or at least have a better idea of what I am working towards, creatively because (if you couldn’t tell) just now I am a little chaotic, overly keen and ready to do anything and everything, which doesn’t help with narrowing down my options.
In terms of what the future holds for PofY, I just hope to continue with what we are doing; grow the community, and inspire more people. Personally, one day, I would love for PofY to become something bigger. I would love the opportunity to host exhibitions, turn it into a physical magazine and expand the team. I feel so driven towards creative communities, and I hope that it will always be a part of my career.
I am very open at the moment since starting a new job. I think, once I settle, I will be able to focus more on finding other creative endeavours to dive into. I would love to design more magazine content for smaller publications and for people who share the same passions for culture and feminism as myself. Of course, I also can’t wait to see where Point of You takes Laura and I this year. We’ve already made so many new connections with creative women.
Finally, what’s occupying your thoughts today?
Honestly, whilst I have been answering these questions, the weather has changed drastically from being super sunny, to snowy, to really rainy and windy, all within the space of 1 hour and it’s making me think about how much I dislike Glasgow winters and how excited I am for warmer days in Spring haha! But aside from being extremely British and obsessed with discussing the weather, today I have been chatting back and forth with one of the latest Point of You features and it is making me feel so grateful to have the opportunity to expand my network, meet new people and turn strangers into good friends through interviewing them for PofY. This is something I will never take advantage of; it always fills me with happiness knowing that at any point I can message any of the 20+ she/they creatives I have interviewed for a second opinion, advice or simply a chat.
The impact of creativity, community and uplifting others is so powerful and is something I hope will always be a part of my career, regardless of what role/field I end up in.
I’ve learnt a lot about myself and how we, as humans, put up with a lot at work in order to pay rent and other bills. What is really important is to put yourself first. Even though moving careers can feel unsettling, it’s always worth it to be valued and challenged at your job. Life isn’t just about earning a salary and ‘getting by’. Now, I want to live each week making sure I do something to challenge myself, something I can be proud of when reflecting.
Such a good point to end on… put yourself first, creatives! Thanks for sharing your journeys, gals. Check out the Point of You website and give both Laura and Imogen a follow on Instagram.
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1Creative Majority, APPG for Creative Diversity, September 2021 – https://www.kcl.ac.uk/cultural/resources/reports/creative-majority-report-v2.pdf