Figuring it Out: Sarah Gerrity

I’m so so excited about today’s Figuring it Out installment! Meet my friend Sarah Gerrity, who writes the beautiful food blog Sweetsonian. It’s easy to get lost in Sarah’s recipes, stories, and photos, but she’s also a super talented graphic designer and is always surprising me with how talented she is. It’s also Sarah’s birthday today! So help wish her a happy birthday with me and check out her great advice below.

Cupcakes for Breakfast: Figuring it Out with Sarah Gerrity of Sweetsonian

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Olympic gymnast (age 8), Graphic designer (age 15), Arabic media analyst…or a spy (most of college), Graphic designer (some dreams do come true!)

What do you do now? Is there anything on your list you still want to do?

By day, I’m the Multimedia Editor for the Department of Energy – and I absolutely, positively, couldn’t-be-happier love it. By night, I work as a freelance designer, mainly for Google and Visual.ly. And when I’m not completely wiped of all creativity, I mix, sauté, bake, and blend for Sweetsonian.

Most of my work revolves around designing infographics. Career highlight? Barack Obama retweeted the very first infographic I designed. I’m pretty sure my life peaked at that very moment.

I do a bit of freelance photography and logo design, but designing infographics is what I give up sleep for.

What inspires you?

Person: Sara Forte of Sprouted Kitchen. I love love love everything she writes and cooks.
Artist: Hands down, Amanda, of Wit & Whistle
Flavor: Red. Lobster. cheddar. biscuits. { Photo }
Color: I find myself swooning over shades of blue. { Feathers // Print }
Music: Mellow hipster music – if that doesn’t make sense, you can check out my Spotify playlists here.

Cupcakes for Breakfast: Figuring it Out with Sarah Gerrity of Sweetsonian

When did you realize something you liked was actually one of your passions. What did you decide to do with it?

My last job was working as a communications assistant at a little international development nonprofit. Initially, I planned on somehow transferring into their Middle East department, so I could actually use my Arabic degree and work on development programming… but after six months, I had learned so much about communications, and it was like I woke up one day and realized that I had redesigned everything at that nonprofit… flyers, emails, newsletters, you name it.

That day. That was it. I decided to be a designer, and I decided to put 200% into being a designer. I designed things day and night until I found my design style, and eventually finagled my way into my job that I love.

Tell us about a risk you’ve taken in the process of figuring it out.

Something that always felt like a huge risk to me was making decisions entirely based on what I wanted and needed in my life — being selfish. Putting your own needs first can be scary on several levels: I worried about how people might react and how people would see me. But the truth is, sometimes, we all need to put ourselves first — in our careers, in relationships, and in day-to-day life. Understanding the reality of when it’s okay to put yourself first and when you can put others first is something that took me years — a college degree, two coasts, and three different jobs — to figure out. Sometimes I need to cloister myself for a weekend to finish a few projects, and sometimes, I need to say “no” to some of my clients. But all the time, what I really need is to spend a day cooking something fabulous for my closest friends.

What are the biggest obstacles that you have overcome to get to where you want to be? And if you aren’t there, what are your fears in getting there?

As a self-taught graphic designer, my biggest mental hurdle was getting over the fact that I didn’t have any sort of academic background in art or design.

Before I started my current job, I interviewed for 23 different jobs in one year, and nothing was really a good fit. Designing infographics at the Energy Department was my big break – and it felt weird to call myself a designer, even though I had been designing things all day, every day for more than a few months. This might sound ridiculous, but after about six months of day-and-night design work, I had to cave. Everything just felt right.

How does blogging help you figure it out?

With my current work, I create things 24/7 – for the Energy Department, for Google, for other clients, etc. Sweetsonian is the one place in my life where I have the ultimate say, so these days, my blog is my form of creative release. I’ve been a writer as long as I can remember, and writing is something that helps me figure out what’s going on in my life – what’s stressing me out, what makes me happy, and what I need to really be focusing on.

Oh, and blogging helps me figure out what I want to eat for dinner. And breakfast, lunch, and dessert.

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Read more from the Figuring it Out series!

4 thoughts on “Figuring it Out: Sarah Gerrity

  1. Liz {What Dress Code?}

    It’s so funny, I literally clicked away from catching up on Sarah’s recipes on Sweetsonian and went over to Cupcakes for Breakfast only to find… Sarah of Sweetsonian! I love this series and Sarah’s background is such an inspiration!

  2. Brenna

    I love this series – it gives you a chance to know other bloggers and friends better! I love Sarah’s thoughts about her blog being the ultimate creative release. I couldn’t agree more.

  3. Lindsay Tiffany

    This is one of those posts that came at just the right moment to resonate personally with me. Thanks so much for this series, it’s super inspiring!

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