Very few are fortunate to find what they love; those who find it tend to hang on for dear life. Even fewer people have the ability to recognize what they love when they do find it. Erik Jacobsen, a graphic designer at Travel Channel, is one of those lucky souls who not only found what he loved in art, but was able to recognize his love for it at a very young age. The courage to move to New York City from Washington DC in order to cling on to his art is what makes Erik an inspirational person to me. His excitement rather than fear of uprooting an established life in a familiar city to a large chaotic New York City is not a feat that most would welcome.
As the youngest of three, he found solace from the disarray that having siblings brings by locking himself in a room to draw and paint. He describes being chosen for an art show in the first grade as the moment when his sentiment for art collided with the recognition of his ability. The recognition of talent by his first grade teacher set the seed for the pursuit of something that when you are in the first grade you can’t quite recognize. Since his first art show, Erik continued to expand his skillset partaking in more art shows and finally picking up graphic design in high school which he gets paid to do today. Hence, it’s not surprising that Erik is taking a life changing step to move to New York City from Washington DC; a place he has called home for 10 years in order to continue his pursuit of something that he thoroughly enjoys.
The big move to New York was mandated by his employer. On whether he would have seen himself living in the Big Apple without the company’s mandate, Erik says he “wanted to move to New York after college in 2010, but it was hard getting a job”. Ironically, the first time he ever got close to living to New York City, his passion brought him back to DC. After graduating from American University, Erik landed a graphic designer job in Elmsford, New York, a city 45 minutes away from New York City. However, his adjacency to New York City came to an abrupt halt because the job wasn’t the right fit. “Two weeks after she hired me, I told her I got an internship at Washingtonian Magazine and I was going to take that instead of a full-time job. I was more passionate about editorial design and I was willing to give up a full-time higher paying job to take an internship,” he says about how he broke the news to his then boss.
Fast forward 6 years later and moving to New York would seem like a dream come true, but it’s riddled with complexity. First, how do you tell your live-in significant other that you have to move? How do you find a new place? Erik admits that relocation is “a real test to anyone’s relationship…it forces you to evaluate things. It wasn’t a fear of mine that we would break up…it was my fear that he would be unhappy. You have to make the decision together and take into account the other.” He says that the choice to move was made easier by the fact that he and his boyfriend have been together for 5 years.
So you’ve convinced your boyfriend to move with you, now how do you find a place? Friends and technology played a significant role in easing their apartment search. “We talked to friends and they recommended Street Easy…which sends you alerts based on your preferences.” His main advice about finding the right place: “be ready to jump”. Apartments move quickly in New York so when you find something you love, hop to it. However, he points out that when apartment hunting, you should be wary of agents who get a portion of your rent as payment for finding you a home. “The agent upped the cost by $100 after we said we were interested….confirm house prices before you say you are interested.”
So what’s next for Erik and Tyler in New York? First and foremost “get the apartment set up and make it look like an adult lives there. If I make the apartment feel homey, it’s going to feel like home.” Then embrace the chaos of New York, keeping in mind that it will take time to adjust coming from a place like DC. In his new home, Erik also looks forward to sharpening his skills like screen printing that he has acquired while living in the District. He hopes that the creative feel of New York will empower him to do more with screen printing and be involved in other creative endeavors outside his 9-5. Thus, living the spirit of Wear What You Have by letting a new place inspire him and continuing to be an inspiration to anyone who seeks to make a living out of what they love.
Note: Interested in seeing more of Erik’s work? Check out his PORTFOLIO.