Designing My American Dream


I have always been envious of my friends who are doctors, stay at home moms, and/or chefs, because they knew exactly what they wanted to be when they grew up. Me on the other hand, I knew I wanted to go to bed with paint under my finger nails, spend my days surrounded by logos, computers screens and canvases. For years I lived with the internal struggle of living between two worlds, then one day my boss came to me with an opportunity to advance at Trader Joe’s, to become a manger. It was an unbelievable opportunity to work and grow with a company I believe in and to make more money doing what I was already doing. It was an opportunity my family and I had to contemplate, we had to think about what this new job would mean to our household and to me as a creative. After 48 hours of conversations, I became a creative who works a non creative full time job. And the truth is, I love both of my worlds, equally. I am a manger at Trader Joe’s and I am a part-time freelance designer/artist.

src=”” alt=” I am a manger at Trader Joe’s and I am a part-time freelance designer/artist.”/> I am a manger at Trader Joe’s and I am a part-time freelance designer/artist.

I feel there is always a story about the starving artist or the depressed free sprint designer, but the difference is my story is not based on person who sits in cubicle dreaming of the day they find the job of their dreams. My story is about a creative who found the balance between her worlds, I call it my version of the American Dream. To me the current meaning of the American Dream is not as black and white as it was when our grandparents were our age. Most of us will have several careers in our lifetime, the best example of this is Ken Jeong. It does not mean you are not focused or have no passion, it means you are living your version of the American Dream. Finding your American Dream is not easy, it took me years to create it, most days I doubt my level of comfortableness with my life, then I ask myself “What would you change, if you could?” Some days my answers are world peace, or my ability to eat dairy, but never how I decide to live my life.


I feel like myself, most people struggle with the internal voice of what they want to do versus what they have to do. But with a little hard work and a tiny bit of selfishness, I think you can create your own American Dream and still pay the bills, without feeling lost and depressed about your life. The point is not to feel stuck in your dream, it is to find balance, I have noticed some days I am more focused on my creative job than my non-creative job and vice versa and that is ok, because it is a conscience thought.

Having a creative space in my home helps me focus.

At this point in my life I create just for myself, this may be through volunteering my talents or through personal projects. To fortify my creative side, I have recently started a new practice I called 1hourAday. It is simple, I spend one hour a day creating; I walk into my studio coffee in hand, I sit at my desk, turn on the timer and I start. I keep a running list of projects I am working on or want to complete. Some are time sensitive like an AIGA post/project or doinDURM branding, or some are on going like our family cookbook based on my grandmother’s recipes, but for the most part it is whatever my mind wants to create. Some hours are easier than others, some are shorter than others, but each hour is a godsend. It allows me to excise my creative side and release energy.

A coloring challenge and 1hourAday project inspired Amy Richards

I also take time to support the creative community by working along side some amazingly talented and smart people, both in doinDURM and AIGA. I had only been to a few community meetings and attended a Student Portfolio Review before AIGA had me hooked. I help them with their blog and social media, and currently organize a series of workshops to help all types of creatives become entrepreneurs. AIGA has been a way for me to stay close to the community and to network with others who love creating just as much as I do. With their different events I get to continue my education on a local and organic level.

AIGA Raleigh

A series of workshops to help all types of creatives become entrepreneurs.

DoinDRUM allows me to give back to the community and be completely creative, by designing our logo and invites, I am now working on a series of tee-shirts. As a group we are dedicated to creating opportunities for community engagement through art based initiatives, and synergistic collaborative partnerships with invested residents, organizations and businesses within the Durham community, we are doing this by the means of Open Mic Monday, hosting different social awareness events and working with local artist to get their voice heard. It feels amazing to be a part of this grassroots organization.

My doinDURM family

Logo and our first shirt...more to come

Being a creative who works a non creative job works for me, it allows me to focus my creative energy in a way that constantly challenges me. I am not saying, do not work in the creative field, I am saying if you make the decision to work a non-creative job, you must also make the decision to surround yourself with positive creatives and to keep creating. Some may read this and not agree, and that is ok. You do not have too, it just means my American Dream is not yours. However, do you know what your American Dream looks like?

Author ofMayshanna Pandora Briscoe this post: Mayshanna Pandora Briscoe is a Freelance Graphic Designer, Mixed Media Artist and Aspiring Blogger. She has a B.A. in International Business and A.A.S. in Advertising and Graphic Design with a Certificate in Web Technology.  When she is not in her studio she can be found experimenting with a new recipe, posting pictures of her design life or food on Instagram, or making memories with her fan club (aka her friends, family and dogs).
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By Mayshanna Pandora Briscoe
Published July 23, 2015