“Tell your dad that getting fired was the greatest thing to happen to my career.” Despite the natural sarcasm that oozes from this surprising conversation lead, it’s entirely authentic. Jose Reyes, at creative company Metaleap, opens the conversation about authenticity, work relationships and personal values leading your creative career with an anecdote from the beginning. Reyes, along with the other two speakers Taylor Martin at Digital Positive and Nikolle Reyes at Metaleap, all graduated from SCAD. They could all agree that their young, hungry enthusiasm fell below the sole desire of landing a job, any job. Ultimately, they all felt the need to prove to their parents that this wasn’t all a waste (boy does that sound familiar). For Reyes, getting fired three months into his first job showed him how much he had to learn before he could get where he is today.
Today, after many years of mentorship, eagerness to learn, travel and the bountiful life lessons along the way, Reyes is the Principal Creative Director of the 18 year old company Metaleap, a multidisciplinary design house working towards fostering creativity and cultivating relationships. Martin is the Founder and Chief Creative of a digital design firm with goals towards sustainable and socially conscious creative practices. Both design companies and all three of the alums pride themselves on working with a mission. They constantly strive to create positive change, both in what they do, what the companies do and how they work creatively.
Martin works strategically, using marketing messages to drive design. He noticed that companies with great marketing strategies tend to have low or bad social impact. While, inversely, nonprofits with great social drive, tend to have low or bad marketing strategies. Martin saw this relationship and knew something had to change. Because these companies with great morals in accessibility, inclusivity and authenticity deserve a spotlight. “It is not enough to be neutral,” a guiding philosophy in Martin’s work helps to push him into constantly expanding his horizons.
All three of them had so many cherishable attitudes toward creating deeper, more meaningful spaces for themselves and the communities around them. They each found a way to celebrate their love for positive change by building careers around these values. They do so by working with companies of all different natures— from beer companies to soap companies to interesting publications— that cultivate a similar sense of company purposes. Together, they are able to push creativity into many different forums and markets.
At the end of the day, they believe that we should each do what we are hungry for, not for anyone else, and that, by the same light, we should exercise patience and curiosity to try it all. Without either of those things, Reyes may not have been able to go from the something terrible of getting fired from his first real job to the something great of doing everything he loves.